The district of Shunyi, north-east of Beijing, isn’t known for its winter snow – yet it is home to one of the biggest ski parks in China. And it’s one of eight that the Belgian photographer Cédric van Turtelboom visited on a trip to the region last year for his series My Winter Holiday – a project that won him the honour of being one of four young photographers exhibited at the Grand Palais as part of the celebrated Paris Photo festival.
The Lianhuashan resort represents the rapidly growing leisure pursuit of winter sports among China’s middle classes – and never mind that it requires a hefty dump of artificial snow to sustain. It is this use of precious water that gave Van Turtelboom the impetus for his series. “The [Tianmo] desert is not far from Beijing – and water supplies here are threatened by the resorts,” he says.
By depicting these synthetic locales – from their fake blossom trees and alpine rocks that pepper each resort to this striking shot of a trio of red lanterns – Van Turtelboom is gently critiquing an industry that shows no signs of abating. “What I like in this project is that by starting with an incongruous picture that might make you smile you start to think about the series as a whole, and in the process you’ll learn something about the artificiality of it all.”
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