MEKONG RIVER PROJECT
The 'Mekong River' project investigates the poetical cord between the Mekong River and the people on its shores. I search for this cord in the gaze of the population whose culture is neatly tied to the Mekong.
The Mekong is one of the healthiest rivers in the world. But western style modernization endangers the capacity of the river to keep healthy. The governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are planning eleven big hydropower dams on the Mekong River’s mainstream to fulfill the growing demand for energy in the region. Especially China and Thailand crave for energy supply. Poor Laos wants to become the battery of
the region to get the necessary devices for neoliberal investment. These big hydropower plants however will threaten the Mekong's natural flow, blocking the fishes waterway and endangering the rich biodiversity of the region. Over sixty million people depend on the good state of the river for their livelihood!
But the river is for the population not only a source for proteïns. It is interwoven with their cultures. The stream, its character, its pace reflects in the gaze of the people who have lived for ages in a relative symbiosis with nature.
Western based modernization is currently way too much based on exploitation of natural ressources as an investment for profit. It enhances a cynical view on nature and culture. It imposes itself as the only alternative. An example: “The lake (Tonle Sap Lake, a major tributary to the Mekong) is dying,” says Jon Morgan, who runs the Tonle Lake Clinic. He knows the region very well. “Productivity in the lake is falling dramatically. People are going to become hungry and desperate. I suspect all of these villages are going to be in crisis over the next five years.” He attributes this to the damming in China.
Instead of cynicism, I search for something else. Something which doesn't look at the river as a means to an end, but as part of our being, as a sy mbol which flows through our bodies. Melancholia, poetry, streaming, it is in between the Mekong and the gaze of the people who live on the rhythm of the river.
Mekong is an ongoing project. In December 2012 and Januart 2013 I will continue photographing the poetical, cultural and livelihood-ties between the river and the people living around its shores.
Laos and Cambodia:
Vietnam, Mekong Delta:
FINE ART PRINTS
Prints on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta are available, easy to acces from the right above corner on the website page of the picture.