The Dark Diamonds: A solo exhibition of An Qi

10 March - 10 April 2019 Xiamen

Duration:10, March—10, April, 2019

Curator: ZHONG Linchun

Opening: 10, March, 2019  15:00

Organiser:Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre

Venue: Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre (301, Building No. 2, Xinlinwan Business Center, Jimei District, Xiamen)


For those in the south of China, coal is familiar, but something we rarely experience directly. Coal resources and production are concentrated in the north and west of the country; we Southerners are more intimate with natural gas and firewood.


But for An Qi, who was born in the 1980s in Shanxi Province, coal blocks were his childhood toys. Surrounded by coal mines growing up, his family and many others in his city heavily relied on the coal industry. An Qi has said that he has developed a special complex around coal, leading him to try to comprehend it through photography.


An Qi spent four years  shooting coal mines, covering various aspects: the entrances to mines, the working environment, vents of mines, coal preparation plants, logistics support, the effects on near-by land, miners and their families, and words and archival pictures from older generations. He accumulated a vast number of images, and it’s too difficult to summarize their intricacy in brief.But what emerges is the essence of the coal block.


Nature forged the world’s coal from the remains of dead trees and the energy they had accumulated from the sun. The coal itself is neutral. But humans’ minds are not. Millions of peoples’ lives and destinies have become attached to coal. Cities have formed and prospered due to mines, then declined and decayed. 


Many of us think we have a remote connection with coal and what it represents. But it arouses base human desire and greed just like stocks or real estate.It’s no wonder, then, that people call coal “the dark diamond.”


In this exhibition, the portraits of coal blocks represent a few specimens culled from an innumerable amount. But they offer a chance to pierce illusions and embody a greater truth. Coal possesses such a large amount of energy, but has its light ever eased humanity’s blindness? Has it ever enabled us to introspect? To think about the point of it all?


ZHONG Linchun