Artwork Detail

Ertan Dam, Downstream Side, Panzhihua (Sichuan), China
Italian, b. 1966
C-print mounted on Plexiglas
39 1/2 x 78 7/8 x 2 "
University purchase, Art Acquisition Fund, and with funds from Hon. and Mrs. Thomas Eagleton, 2004
WU 2004.0005
Armin Linke travels throughout the world documenting the effects of globalization, the transformation of cities into megalopolises, and the social and political consequences of massive industrial expansion on human living conditions. This photograph, which shows the construction of a gigantic hydroelectric dam on the Yalong River in Sichuan Province, China, emphasizes with its extreme of scale the diminutive stature of the individual faced with his or her own disappearance. The Chinese workers fishing in the water appear like miniature actors in a giant panoramic stage set, overshadowed by the sheer physical and technological power of the concrete structure holding back the flow of nature. Linke’s work has been described as exploring notions of the contemporary sublime, and this photograph is no exception. Here he alludes to nineteenth-century depictions of man’s powerlessness before the immensity of nature by evoking sensations of disorientation, awe, and profound fragility in the face of an entirely man-made environment. [Permanent collection label, 2017]