Calligraphy: The taming of the waters by Yu the Great [note: a possibly mythical culture-hero renowned for ending serious flooding by channeling rivers rather than trying to dam them] took place in the remote past, but every year, flooding is still a danger along the Yangzi River. The populations on both sides of the river have been severely harmed by it. Early in the previous century, Sun Yat Sen put forth the idea of building a dam at the Three Gorges to interrupt the flow of the river. Several decades later, Chairman Mao Zedong also promoted this suggestion.
Work on the reservoir finally commenced in 1994, and will be completed next year. The reservoir has a depth of 175 m., a perimeter of 500 km., and it spans the two provinces of Hubei and Sichuan. Oceangoing freighters of up to 10,000 tons will be able to sail directly to Chongqing. The reservoir will promote the economic prosperity of the interior and solve the problem of power generation for a vast area. It has become a milestone of Chinese construction and a symbol of progress and modernization.
1.5 million people were displaced from the area of the reservoir. With their own hands, they tore down and moved 13 cities, 140 townships and 1,300 villages, brick by brick, tile by tile. They had no choice but to leave the homes which their ancestors had lived in for generations. Neighbors and friends were scattered to different places.
The Wait depicts some of the 1.5 million people displaced from the Chinese provinces of Hubei and Sichuan by the building in 1994 of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangzi River. Seen as a milestone of Chinese construction, the resultant reservoir provides a power source and allows massive oceangoing freighters to pass, thus promoting the economic prosperity of the country’s interior. Many residents, however, were forcibly displaced from the homes that their families had lived in for generations. Yunfei integrates the honored traditions of painting, calligraphy, and writing in this work to focus attention on the cultural rupture as well as the heavy social and environmental costs of industrial progress.
"Acquisitions of the Princeton University Art Museum 2010," Record of the Princeton University Art Museum 70 (2011): p. 69-110.