printed on C-Type Matt
- Limited edition print run of 50
- Printed in the UK, Global shipping available
Picturesque, Sublime and Dangerous: Landscapes with Chinese Characteristics
It’s the immensity of Catherine Hyland’s landscapes that first grab you. Look at her picture of the mineral-stained hills of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in China’s Gansu Province and you feel human life slipping away. These are expansive images where the horizon disappears into a haze of barren mountainsides. There is no life here, no vegetation to soften the impression of aridity and heat. It’s alien, it’s barren and it’s dead.
It’s a wild landscape but at the same time it’s a landscape that’s been tamed for human consumption. There on the right of the frame is a fence, a viewing platform. It’s a landscape made for tourists. Yes, we could be on another planet, but it’s a planet that you can visit on a daytrip, a planet you can photograph with your phone. It has a road and that road leads back to civilisation. It’s the picturesque and the sublime wrapped in one, a contemporary Instagram planet, or (in China at least) a WeChat planet.
There are fences and viewing points throughout Hyland’s images, marking the right spot to view from, the right picture to take. In another image from Gansu, we see an empty flattened viewing space with fenced off pathways heading in four directions. On the one hand this fencing off represents an enclosure, on the other it recognises the danger of the landscape. People are fenced off for their own protection because this is a landscape that does threaten human life. It is a desertified landscape that encroaches and invades and through history has brought death and destruction.