Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Benoit Aquin "Chinese Dust Bowl" Opens March 6th

Camion en feu, Mongolie intérieure, Chine, 2006
© Benoit Aquin / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Exhibition Dates: March 6 - April 10th.

The gallery is pleased to present “Chinese Dust Bowl”, our first solo exhibition by Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin, which depicts one of the greatest environmental disasters of our time.

“Chinese Dust Bowl” documents one of the largest conversions of productive land into sand anywhere in the world. Today, deserts cover eighteen percent of China and of those, seventy-eight percent are natural, while twenty-two percent were caused by ecologically damaging human activities such as the overexploitation of arable land, overgrazing and increasingly deep drilling for water. China’s situation is quickly becoming the world’s most massive and rapid conversion of arable land into barren sand dunes. The resulting dust is picked up by the wind and transported, in the form of giant sandstorms, all over China and into Japan, Korea and even North America. In an effort to reverse the situation, the Chinese government has initiated the largest environmental restoration initiative the world has ever seen and has begun a mass exodus of “environmental refugees,” displaced by the advancing dust.

Aquin’s photographs explore the impact of this great environmental disaster on the Chinese people and landscape. Sepia and subdued in colour, the images depict a landscape that is normally vibrant and colourful. Aquin states, “My series, the Chinese Dust Bowl, shows just what happens when we mismanage the environment. These issues should not just be seen in the context of one country, they are global issues. They affect us all. And as a global population, we must solve them.” He finds beauty in the destruction of the land, while also raising awareness about the environmental state of our world.

In 2008, Aquin won the Prix Pictet for his “Chinese Dust Bowl” series and in 2009 the work was published as the monograph: FAR EAST, FAR WEST, by les éditions du passage. His work can be found in the prominent collections of Museum of Contemporary Canadian Photography, Ottawa; Musée National de Beaux-Arts du Quebec, Quebec City; and the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa.

The artist would like to thank the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), The Walrus, Patrick Alleyn, and les éditions du passage.

Location: Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen Street West, Toronto Ontario

Link to Stephen Bulger Gallery:

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