WE ARE THE WORLD: photography from China and Netherland

28 November 2009 - 28 January 2010

In the framework of this 2009/2010 traveling exhibition, a collaboration between the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (Beijing, CN) and Paradox (Edam, NL), the title refers to mutual responsibility: shared responsibility for the highly complex, culturally, economically and socially interrelated world we are living in.

Over-consumption in one part of the world creates economic growth in another (as well as migration, pollution, etc). The current worldwide crisis has made us increasingly aware of the fact that the Chinese trade balance surplus has been, and will be financing US debt out of necessity, feeding further growth. Yet the explosive demand for the energy necessary to fuel global consumption, not to forget China’s booming internal market, has lead to the dramatic increase in CO2 emissions that will eventually kill us all. In other words: our lives, economies and futures are more strongly linked than ever before.


Escaping the doom scenario scores high on the priority lists of scientists and an increasing number of politicians. Economists have also started formulating the characteristics of a post-growth society, challenging the seemingly ubiquitous need for economic growth, pointing at the fact that (at a certain income level) materialism is toxic to happiness.


The exhibition WATW is illustrates various aspects of our globalised, consumption driven world and combines the works of Chinese and Dutch photographers and artists in a traveling show that can be defined as a montage of artistic, journalistic, and scientific observations. The works will be presented in an experimental, provocative manner, combining them with text excerpts and charts. The area covered by WATW is vast, ranging from economic growth, the environment, energy production to capital flows, migration, consumption, etc. The most important idea is that all these phenomena are linked and that we have a global, shared responsibility to cope with them. The world we share is a roller coaster that we, ranging from individuals to NGOs, multinational corporations or governments have only limited control over.

The works of the artists/photographers in the show do not serve as mere illustrations. They function as separate units in the exhibition, expressing the concerns and interests raised by individual artists, reflecting on various aspects of the world around them. Yet they also interact with one another as well as with the graphs, real-time newsfeeds and informational components that will be projected on large billboards in the space added by the curatorial and design team.

Upon closing at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, the exhibition will travel to the Dutch Cultural Centre during the Shanghai World Exhibition in 2010.

WATW was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Netherlands China Art Foundation, the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, the Royal Dutch Embassy in Beijing.


Graphic design: Kummer & Herrmann, spatial design: Jeroen de Vries, animations and webdesign: Antenna-men.