At 1114 miles the Grand Canal of China is the world’s oldest and longest canal, eclipsing the next two man-made channels of the world – the 120 miles long Suez and 48 mile long Panama canals. Amazingly, the building of the canal began in 486 B.C. during the Wu Dynasty and was completed by 609 A.D. With 24 locks and some 60 bridges, the channel connects Beijing in the north and Hangzhou in the south.
In 2009, photographer Philipp Scholz Rittermann traveled to China to capture the country’s rapidly changing landscapes along the Grand Canal. Traveling down the canal, Rittermann’s photographs depict the striking contrasts of a nation in transition – rural terrain alongside urban developments, uninhabited skyscrapers towering over village markets, and young men in modern attire lounging alongside ancient statues.
The Scott Nichols Gallery presents a series of these photographs in “The Emperor’s River. Photographing Along China’s Grand Canal.” Ritterman’s large-scale high-resolution panoramic sequences offer views so wide that they surpass what we can physically see with our own eyes. Described as “visual poetry,” the work allows us to see the Grand Canal of China through the passage of 2500 years – from the eyes of the Emperor who dictated its construction to today’s Chinese who want it to carry the goods of the global economy.
“The Emperor’s River. Photographing Along China’s Grand Canal” can be viewed through October 29, 2011.
*Images courtesy of the Scott Nichols Gallery.