Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Nadine Barth. Text by Liz Wells, et al.
Mother River is a four-year project (2010–14) for which the British Chinese photographer Yan Wang Preston (born 1976) photographed the entire 6,211-km Yangtze River at precise 100-km intervals with a large-format film camera.
As China's "Mother River," the Yangtze is routinely depicted through idealistic images of iconic places. With Mother River, Preston conceptually undermines this deep-seated preference toward certain river locales and their landscape representations. The equally spaced photographic locations produce no picturesque views or sublime concrete structures, but a set of accidental and vernacular landscapes that have never or rarely been photographed before. The book tells an epic story of the entire width of China from its western highland to its eastern coast and demonstrates that, in an era of abundant satellite mapping and saturated imagery, fresh views can still be attained in acts of creative mapping.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Zelda Cheatle, Nadine Barth.
In 2013, during a long-term photography project conducted along the Yangtze river, British Chinese photographer Yan Wang Preston (born 1976) made an incisive observation: in the small village of Xialiu stood a 300-year-old tree, squarely in the center of a community that was, at the time of her visit, being coerced into moving so that a dam could be constructed. Three months later there was no trace of the village or the tree and the residents had moved farther up the mountain. And the 70-ton tree? It was sold for $10,000 to a hotel in the nearest large city, Binchuan. Preston found the tree, divested of all its branches and leaves and bandaged in plastic, inside the skeleton of the hotel, which was still under construction, like a living sculpture yet to become cognizant of its new surroundings. In China, where new cities are constantly springing up, transplanting nature is big business. In her new photo series Forest, Preston tracks down uprooted trees that have been transferred to concrete deserts, questioning our sense of the meaning of homeland.