Ann Waddell
Earth Reverie

February 12 - March 20, 2010

red pants
Red Pants
old man
Old Man
tree queen
Tree Queen
pig ghost
Pig Ghost

Earth Reverie

Ann Waddell

Dadizui—literally translated as "The Mouth of a Big Land"—is a rural village located a few hours from Chongqing in Sichuan Province, China. Passing by on the highway, there is little to notice— there are scenic rolling hills dotted with small farms with houses old and new. It is pretty but unremarkable in a tourist sense. The land here has been reasonably good to the people—the earth still replenishes itself yearly; the villagers grow vegetables and raise pigs and fowl to sell and feed their families.

It is here that Ann Waddell has trained her large format camera to document the physical and inner lives of a Chinese village in this age of economic phenomenon. Within almost every family, there is at least one person of adult age or parent who has gone east to work in the factories of one of China's southern boomtowns—Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wenzhou, etc. In some cases, an entire family boarded up their house and went east; it is uncertain just when they will return.

With continued interaction, Ann Waddell is able to coax scenes that are both private and familiar. The children are seemingly aware of their positions in this changing world and act out moments where they are equally dreamy and bored; they act playfully or dutifully, reflexive of their elders. The use of vibrant greens and hardened browns in the images underscore the strength of time and the flexibility of youth. Upon close examination, incidental details describe invaluable data that mark this point in time.

"In my visits to this 'mouth of a big land,' I became interested in those who are left—the young and the old—and their connection to this big land that is their lives, their childhoods, and their livelihoods as they continue on in the village. I became interested in the tales—the beautiful, strange, quiet, and sometimes unsettling tales—that can be told through a land and the people who inhabit it."

A long-time traveler to China, Ann Waddell first visited Dadizui in 2002. After her MFA, she moved to China, and from 2006 to 2008 she compiled this portrait of a rural village that is rich not only with personal history, but expands into an important social document of this remarkable rebirth of a nation. It is a fascinating tool to look into the intimate lives of the very people who are shaping this world.

Ann Waddell was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI and currently lives in Beijing, China. She received a BA in Art History and Visual Arts from Princeton University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She is currently an MA candidate in Art Education at Columbia University. Ann's photographs have been shown in the U.S., China, and now Tokyo. This is her first solo exhibition in Japan.