Daesung Lee April 10 — July 3, 2015

On The Shore of a Vanishing Island, Ghoramara West Bengal, India. 2011

Ghoramara island is located on a delta region in West Bengal. Due to the dramatic increase in sea level, resulting from the effects climate change. Since the 1960’s, the shores of this island are being perpetually washed away.  And since the 1980’s, more than 50% of the territory has vanished due to erosion by the sea. As a result, two-thirds of the population have moved away from the island. Many of the people still living on the island are farmers and fishermen who depend on the island’s resources for their livelihoods. According to a civil servant I met, in 20-25 years the Indian government could abolish the island and has already formulated a plan to evacuate villagers to another island named Sagar. However, this evacuation plan does not ensure any financial support or compensation for those having to relocate their lives.

I could see the traces of a heritage vanishing by the rising tides. Exposed roots of plants destroyed by the erosion serve to illustrate the absence of foundation in the lives of these people. The sea is swallowing up their past while their future remains unknown. The continually receding shore and vanishing vegetation leave behind a coast of sediment holding an ironic beauty of its own amid the increasingly barren shores. You could call it a tragic beauty caused by human hands. I situated villagers on the shore and took portraits of them in juxtaposition with the beauty of the vanishing island to make it look unrealistic. but it is a real situation of the people where they live. There will come a day when these people will have no choice but to move out of their homeland. One day this island on which they were born will only exist in their memories as an unreal.

Daesung Lee is a Korean photographer currently based in Paris, France. He graduated from Chung-Ang University in Korea in 2003 and began his career as a commercial photographer. In 2007, he turned his focus to documentary work dealing with globalization and its impact on the world. He has received several awards for his work including, Environmental Photographer of the Year (Lens Culture, 2014).

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Daesung Lee
On the shore of a vanishing island 2, 2011
Daesung Lee
On the shore of a vanishing island 3, 2011
Daesung Lee
On the shore of a vanishing island 13, 2011
Daesung Lee
On the shore of a vanishing island 18, 2011
Daesung Lee
On the shore of a vanishing island 19, 2011