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Agence VU - Ian Teh
Ian Teh

“Much of my artistic creativity stems from my interests in social, environmental and political issues. I imagine my work as a series of short films made out of stills. They are narratives that are built on moments of time collected over extended periods. Each story is a woven fabric of compositional and colour threads that come together to create a particular ambience intended to both emphasize my perspective on the subject matter and to, hopefully, encourage the viewer to take the narrative beyond the limits of my frame, into a direction that makes the experience of those images more vivid.”

British photographer, Ian Teh was born in Malaysia and currently resides and works between both London and Kuala Lumpur.

Teh’s concern for social, environmental and political issues is evident in much of his photography. Amongst selected works, his series, The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives (1999-2003), records the devastating impact of the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze River. In later works, such as Dark Clouds (2006-2008), Tainted Landscapes (2007-2008) and Traces (2009-2011), Teh explores the darker consequences of China’s booming economy. He is currently working on the concept of borders, with works like Confluence (2014).

His photographs have been widely featured in several international publications such as, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and The Independent Magazine.
He was awarded the EF grant from the Magnum Foundation in 2011 and also received a high commendation for the 2009 Prix Pictet award. In 2001 he was part of the Joop Swart Masterclass. In 2014, he is an inaugural Fellow of The Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography .

Ian Teh has had exhibitions in China and the Netherlands, as well as in the United States. He has published three monographs, Undercurrents (2008), Traces (2011) and Confluence (2014).


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Portraits

Stories

Okinawan sorrow (2016)

n Japan, Okinawa inhabitants have been fighting for more than 30 years against the massive presence of US military bases on their land. The Futenma base is seen as a danger for the population and has become a symbol of this struggle. Its transfer to the north of the island imagined by the authorities would cause a major ecological disaster. But the interest of the inhabitants is in conflict with the political views and the diplomatic relations between Japan and the US. Okinawa Island is the poorest district of Japan, and is still bearing the consequences of the American occupation at the end of the Second World War. The bloody fight that marked the island's capitulation led to the death...

When Traditional Rice Farming Symbolises ‘Resistance’ (2015)

Rice is the second most produced grain in the world: around 480 million tones was produced in 2013. At 70 million tonnes, Indonesia is the third largest producer, behind China and India. The Indonesians posses a multitude of words to say 'rice', and even have a 'goddess of the paddy fields’. Known as Dewi Sri, she is venerated from West Java all the way to the East in the island of Bali. Despite its production volumes, Indonesia continues to import around a million tones per year due to its high levels of consumption of 130 kg per person per year compared to 30 kg in Japan. This level of consumption was the result of the 'green revolution’ put into action under the Suharto dictatorship...

Jane Austen’ England (2015)

Between the British bucolic countryside of Devon and the centenary shops on Bond Street in London, we can still, two hundred years after the passing of Jane Austen, still wonder around in the England of her novels. The photographer of Ian Teh takes us on the trail of the novelist and her characters and makes us travel in the most memorable scenes described through her works : we can imagine Louisa falling down the stairs of the Cobb of Lyme Regis harbour, and Chawton House where Jane Austen spent the last years of her life. As well, we find Chatsworth House, the Cavendish domaine, that has served as a model for Darcy’s Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. However, the place where we...

Confluence (The Strait of Malacca : the crossroads of the world) (2014)

Located in the Malaysian waters, the Strait of Malacca is currently the most important sea route of the world, and a decisive crossroads for international trade and cultural exchanges. This series of photographs documents a journey, for the most part along the short coastline of Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia. It is a contemporary portrait of a state, and in a sense a metaphor for the rest of the country. On the shore, an hour away from the nation’s glittering capital, are the gritty industrialised shipping terminals of Port Klang and the sleepy, seemingly idyllic rural towns that populate the Selangor waterfront. These images try to offer a nuanced document of what this...

Fight against malaria at the border between Myanmar and Thailand (2014)

The meandering Moei, which marks the natural boundary between Thailand and Myanmar, is also the staging ground of the most important frontline in the worldwide battle against malaria. Malaria is the work of the single-celled Plasmodium parasites, and Plasmodium falciparum chief among them. They spread between people through the bites of mosquitoes, invading first the liver, then the red blood cells. The first symptoms are generic and flu-like: fever, headache, sweats and chills, vomiting. If the parasites spread to the kidneys, lungs and brain, things go downhill quickly. Malaria already kills around 660,000 people every year, most of them in Africa. François Nosten came to...

Bangkok, the most visited city in the world (2014)

In 2013, Bangkok became the top destination city in the world, with 15.98 billions tourists. This is the first time an Asian city is in the top rank since the Index was launched in 2011. Bangkok comes before London (15.96 billions), Paris (13.92 billions) and Singapore (11.75 billions). It's a very popular destination for French: in 2012, 530 000 French tourists came in Thailand, an increase of more 50 per cent in a decade. The Thai capital, was nominated “best city in the world in 2013” by the American magazine “Travel and Leisure” and also “best city in Asia” for the fourth consecutive year, before Kyoto (Japan) and Chiang Mai (Thailand). These nominations are...

Iskandar, Malaysia's development (2013)

Golf courses, marinas, hotels, restaurants and amusement parks are emerging with the aim of transforming Johor’s strait into an Eldorado for the region’s investors. Since 2006, the state of Johor in Malaysia, is pursuing a vast developing program of its infrastructures: it is called “The Iskandar Malaysia project”, and it takes its name from the now deceased sultan Iskandar Johor Almarhum. Certain "flagship areas' of development have been designated by the Authority of Regional Development of Iskandar to attract investment and urban projects in the region. In Nusajaya, located across from Singapore, the Puteri Harbour marina attracts Singaporeans buyers looking to speculate....

Netherlands, Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve (2013)

The Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve is one of Europe's rare examples of 'rewilding' project. Located bellow sea level and protected by dykes, the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve spreads over 56 square metres, in the west of the Flevoland Province, in the Netherlands. The history of this area is very new, since the construction of a polder, which dried out the land and made the creation of this reserve possible, only dates back from 1968. The Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve is internationally known as an important European dry zone and is a shelter for many birds species. In order to avoid birds’ disappearance, its “wet” zone is maintained by the presence of...

The Burmese Spring (2012)

Nap Pyi Taw, the new capital is still under construction and is also one of the top ten fastest growing cities in the world. It is more centrally and strategically located than the old capital, Rangoon. Nap Pyi Taw is desolate, a vast area carved out of a rural existence, a political relocation of the seat of power as a safeguard against the possibility of an overthrow. Indian journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, who visited Nap Pyi Taw in January 2007, described the vastness of the new capital as "the ultimate insurance against regime change, a masterpiece of urban planning designed to defeat any putative "colour revolution" – not by tanks and water cannons, but by geometry and...

China, Traces: Yellow River (2011)

Few rivers have captured the soul of a nation more deeply than the Yellow River in China. It is to the Chinese what the Nile is to Egypt: the cradle of civilization. The fall of this famous river is a tragedy whose consequences extend far beyond the 150 million people it directly sustains. The Yellow's plight highlights the dark side of China's economic miracle, an environmental crisis that has led to a shortage of the one resource no nation can live without: water. Nothing, however, has hastened the water crisis more than three decades of rampant industrial growth. China's economic boom has, in an ironic symmetry, fueled an equal and opposite environmental collapse. In the past the...

Neo Burlesque London (2010)

Story done in collaboration with Wang Wei It's almost midnight in Dalston - an up n'coming area of East London - and we're headed to the 'Die Freche Muse', the location for which, he 'private' Boys Club, was kept top-secret until the day of the party. A young female clown greets us with a wink and a flower as we duck under the arches of what seemingly looks to be a slightly run down Victorian building. Stepping into the main lounge, an intimate space with possibly no more than a hundred guests, it feels as though we've pulled back a velvet curtain to reveal a scene of swinging skirt hems and wizzard-puffs of smoke from suited, shiny-shoed characters, smells of old-school cigarettes...

Traces, China (2010)

Traces is an epic exploration into the industrial hinterlands of China’s far flung and impoverished provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Shaanxi; including also the country’s most polluted city, Linfen, once nicknamed in the 80s as the “Modern Fruit and Flower Town”. The series depict scenes in the countryside, a traditionally rural landscape that in the past three decades has seen the encroachment of industrialization. Set where once farmlands grew green, these images depict the fast-breeding industry of cement, steel and coal. Rampant growth, corruption and poorly regulated laws have allowed factories to spill their untreated effluent into local streams. Over-mining...

Dark clouds, China (2006)

This is a journey into some of China’s most industrialised cities, a journey to the other side of that bright shiny facade that is the economy. It is a glimpse of another life and another world that is rarely seen.

Chinese borders with Korea and Russia (2001)

Everyday, bus loads of Russians cross the Chinese border to visit towns such as Suifenhe in order to buy cheap Chinese goods. They are entrepreneurs, here for business and also for a good time. There are even bars catering for the Russians and Russian prostitutes. The items on the market range from textile to timber to scrap metal. However behind this legitimate business, there is a parallel economy of black market trade, prostitution and organised crime. In contrast, the North Korean border is deadly quiet. The tragic situation across the Tumen river means that there is regular influx of North Korean refugees crossing the borders into China.

Books

Confluence

This series of photographs document a journey, for the most part along the short coastline of Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia. It is a contemporary portrait of a state, and in a sense a metaphor for the rest of the country. On the shore, an hour away from the nation’s glittering capital, are the gritty industrialised shipping terminals of Port Klang and the sleepy, seemingly idyllic rural towns that populate the Selangor waterfront. These images try to offer a nuanced document of what this coastline is today, and perhaps a sense of the significant changes that are ongoing. Here, where land meets sea and cultures collide, entire worlds and realities shift and merge into each other, and questions of race, belonging and identity take on new meanings. Just as prehistoric glaciers leave the mark of their earlier journeys on the land, the outward appearance of these places clearly shows the confluence of past and present.

For centuries, ships following the trade winds ventured into The Straits of Malacca, a narrow 805 km stretch of water between Peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Today, from an economic perspective, it remains one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, linking the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. One-quarter of the world's traded goods, including oil, are shipped through these waters, with Port Klang as the main gateway to Malaysia. Historically, owing to Malaysia’s uniquely important position as a maritime trading hub, The Straits brought commerce but also foreign influences that fundamentally determined the nation’s cultural makeup and history. Hindu and Buddhist cultures imported from India dominated its early history for centuries. Although Muslims passed through in the 10th century, it was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that Islam first established itself on the Malay Peninsula. The rise of the colonial powers in the 19th and 20th centuries brought the Portuguese, Dutch and eventually the British into the region, followed by further migrations of Chinese and Indian workers to meet the needs of the colonial economy. Today, to sustain its economic growth, Malaysia has become the largest importer of migrant labour in the world and is one of the most multicultural societies on earth, undergoing deep transformations within its physical and cultural landscapes.
Text by: Tash Aw

Publisher: The Monsoon Masterclass (2014)
174 pages
Size: 24,2 x 16,5 cm  

Traces

Ian Teh explores the industrial hinterlands of China’s far-flung and impoverished provinces with unflinching precision and subtle intensity. From industrialisation to pollution, these photographic works present the landscape as a repository for humanity’s endeavors, somehow a source of memory and a silent testament to our material desires. In the world’s most populous country Teh has made landscape pictures with close to no people in sight, letting the terrain speak for itself.
Over-mined and ruptured lands have resulted in an organic architecture, reflecting man’s belief that what lies beneath the surface has greater value than what lies above. Yet these photographs do not propose to dictate an easy answer to the problematic balance between improved living standards and environmental nightmares. To quote a retired truck driver in Inner Mongolia “Nowadays we have a better standard of living even if our life spans are shorter. Nothing made here stays here; our government has exported our blue skies to the west.”
In contrast to the landscape vistas we are intermittently submerged into the intimate chronicles of daily life in these environments. Visually darker and obscured, these photographs capture the working conditions at China’s industrial core. We are offered a context in which the passing of time appears fleeting in comparison to the icy stillness and longevity of the land.
Ultimately, the brilliant glare from China’s metropolises can be traced back to the hinterland and its migrant workers. There, as in all of China, Ian Teh sees the dream of a nation, the cost and what is deferred for future
generations.
Text by: Evan Osnos

Publisher: Deep Sleep Editions (2011)
64 pages
Size: 302mm x 240mm  

Undercurrents

A member of the Vu Agency since 2001, Ian Teh has been documenting on China for the past ten years and has exhibited his photography all over the world. His artistic creativity stems from his interest in social, environmental, and political issues of the modern world.

Throughout countless journeys within China, Teh offers a glimpse of another life and another world rarely seen, in places such as the coal mines of the northeast and the border towns along the Sino Russia North Korean border.

Teh is a storyteller. He organically threads together images of integrative colors, creating storylines based on real events, alive with nuances. He encourages his viewers to look beyond the outwardly descriptive nature of his work, discover the narrative that lies beneath, and fill in the gaps. Teh’s photography is a potential dialogue, an eloquent starting point for the viewer to travel beyond the limits of a photograph’s frame and moment in time.
Text by: Christian Caujolle

Publisher: Timezone 8 (2008)
196 pages
Size: 190 x 280 mm
ISBN :978-988-17521-2-3   

Awards


    2014 - The Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography

Exhibitions



Documentary Photography Project - Traces (New York)
From 2013-05-07 to 2013-12-13

The Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project exhibits five photographers : Katharina Hesse, Yuri Kozyrev, Fernando Moleres, Donald Weber and Ian Teh with "Traces", Landscapes in Transition on the Yellow River Basin. "Traces" is an epic exploration into the industrial hinterlands of China’s far flung and impoverished provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Shaanxi; including also the country’s most polluted city, Linfen, once nicknamed in the 80s as the “Modern Fruit and Flower Town”. The series depict scenes in the countryside, a traditionally rural landscape...

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Traces (Singapour)
From 2012-10-05 to 2012-11-17

Traces is an epic exploration into the industrial hinterlands of China’s far flung and impoverished provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Shaanxi; including also the country’s most polluted city, Linfen, once nicknamed in the 80s as the “Modern Fruit and Flower Town”.\r\rThe series depict scenes in the countryside, a traditionally rural landscape that in the past three decades has seen the encroachment of industrialization. Set where once farmlands grew green, these images depict the fast-breeding industry of cement, steel and coal. Rampant growth, corruption and poorly...

More information...



Dark Clouds (Rotterdam)
From 2012-09-01 to 2012-12-09

A Journey into China’s Industrial Cities\r\rA thick layer of grey ash covers the surface of the roads leading to an industrial site. The air in the city is acrid and thick. Steel plants, coking plants and cement factories loom out of the haze and dissapear once more as one travels beyond the city. Further out into the mountains, there are sounds of explosions as workers use dynamite to extract limestone from a mountain for the steel plants. In another valley not too far away miners go deep down into a mining shaft in the early hours of the morning.\r\rChina’s economy is exploding and...

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Coal + Ice (Pékin)
From 2011-09-24 to 2011-11-28

"Coal + Ice" is a documentary photography exhibition featuring the work of 30 photographers from China, the United States, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom, whose work, brought together here, visually narrates the hidden chain of actions triggered by mankind’s use of coal.\r\rThis photographic arc moves from deep within the coal mines to the glaciers of the greater Himalaya where greenhouse gasses are warming the high altitude climate. As these mighty glaciers melt at an accelerated pace, the great rivers of Asia that flow from the Tibetan Plateau...

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Dark Clouds (Atlanta, GA)
From 2008-07-18 to 2008-08-30

Kiang Gallery is pleased to present the award winning photojournalist, IAN TEH, whose recent work, Dark Clouds, explores man’s impact on his environment. The artist focuses on coal related industries in China, exploring the dark side of China's economic rise and the environmental costs suffered due to the developing nation's increasing need for energy. China’s economy is exploding and behind the scenes of this ‘economic miracle’, helping to build and sustain it, is an industrial revolution powered by cheap labor and driven by an insatiable need for coal. Coal for electricity, coal...

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Merging Boundaries and Dark Clouds (Beijing)
From 2008-04-26 to 2008-06-10

A member of the VU Agency since 2001, Ian Teh has been documenting on China for the past ten years and has exhibited his photography all over the world. The Malaysian-born, british photo reporter's artistic creativity stems from his interest in social, environmental, and political issues of the modern world...'Teh's vision, both sensitive nd caring of information, would not be expressed in any other way than with an elegant, refined, touching palette.' Christian Caujolle

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Corporate



 Biography

 Biographie de Ian Teh

Prix et bourses

2004 Finalist for the CCF foundation of Photography
2001 Joop Worldpress Masterclass
1994 Type Directors Club: Award for highly commended work in Baseline magazine
1993 Time Out photographer of the year in association with Pentax


Expositions

2007 Chai - Na China, group exhibition. Rencontres D'Arles, France
2006 Noctambulations, as part of the Air de Paris, VU exhibition sponsored by Hermés in London, Paris, New York, Berlin, Hong Kong, Singapore
2006 VU' par Robert Delpire, VU' Gallery in Paris - France
2005 The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York - USA


Parutions

Crazy English, Ventifuattro
Beijing, Géo Allemagne
Les écoles Olympiques en Chine,Interviu
Zou Shiming, Das Magazin
Beijing, Epsilon
Marché en Chine, Newsweek
Les écoles Olympiques en Chine, Time


Bibliographie

2008 Undercurrents, Timezone 8 Ed
2006 Group publication World's Top Photographers : Photojournalism, Rotovision
2006 Group publication VU à Paris, Panini Books Ed


Corporate

BNP
Colas
Crédit Agricole
ODDO
Pearson Education
Reed Smith


 More info? Contact us...

   Mathilde Penchinat
    01 53 01 85 86
    penchinat@abvent.fr

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