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The vanishing

The Three Gorges Dam project, first conceived by Mao in the 1970s and due for completion in 2006, is an extraordinary feat of engineering. The dam is 185 metres tall and 2,309 metres long. Behind its vast walls, a reservoir will stretch over 650 kilometres to the port of Chongqing, forming the biggest artificial lake in the world. It is a grand vision which promises China a ten percent increase in energy supply and an end to the deadly floods that regular threaten millions of lives.

But the dam is also defined by what has been lost. Thirteen cities, 400 towns and over a thousand villages will eventually be submerged, and up to two million people will have lost their homes. Beginning in 1999, Ian Teh's work spans the 700 kilometres from Chongqing in the west to Sandouping in the east, focussing on the lives of those affected by the dam and the landscapes that would be submerged. He has documented virtual ghost towns, inhabited by a handful of families left temporarily destitute by local corruption and an inadequate resettlement programme. He followed some of the ever-growing floating population, many of whom have migrated to the cities of the eastern seaboard in search of a brighter future.

The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River also highlights the gradual, dramatic transformation of these once vibrant places into broken communities, uncertain of what the future holds as the last vestiges of river life are played out along the historic Three Gorges.
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