“The Wind Island” from Gao Yan’s 2019 photobook refers to islands along the coast of the Fujian Province in southeastern China, opposite Taiwan. Reaching back to the Tang Dynasty, the region has a deep history as a trade center, with a distinct, original culture and architecture influenced by the strong bond with the Maritime Silk Road. The islands and peninsulas are abundant in natural resources. In 2013, the region has been designated as a Comprehensive Experimental Zone, allowing local governments to attract companies and investments. Business and tourism developed; natural resources were exploited.
Gao Yan first visited the region in April 2017 together with students from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts’ Department of Photography to observe the nature and explore remote, undeveloped areas. However, during his first and a second visit in July 2017, he discovered that the development has had significantly influenced the local topography and lifestyle. In his photographs, he tried to record the rapid changes from his own perspective and explore the volatile relationships between local people, natural environment, heritage, history and modern development.