/ Sanne De Wilde / Photo story

The Dwarf Empire 小人国

Dear Visitor, the World Ecological Garden of Butterfly and the Dwarf Empire welcome you! The Dwarf Empire is very grateful for the sympathy and support of all the people in the world. Every morning and afternoon our emperor and his subjects will offer you a spectacular show.
– opening quote from the show

In the Chinese province Yunnan, close to the beautiful Dianchi lake, exists a magic land in the ancient forest where the dwarves live. This is the Land of Dwarves in the World Ecological Garden of Butterfly. The dwarves are diligent, friendly, talented and brave. They have their own capital, their own king, Ministry of Foreign Affaires, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Culture and their own army.
– quote from the brochure of the park

In southern China, near Kunming – the city of eternal spring – exists a theme park that is home to 77 little people. The inhabitants present a song-and-dance show twice a day. This promised land was founded by a tall, rich man who was determined to ‘do something good’ for the little people. Chinese charity dressed in commercial attire. The facade of this empire, with its walls of synthetic material, permanently seems on the verge of collapse. Nevertheless, the empire holds its ground. I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercialising social care. Every story has two sides but in this place every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my making, and theirs. My own trick forced upon myself.

Sanne De Wilde (1987, Belgium) graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Photography at KASK in Ghent with great honours, June 2012. Currently working as a freelancer for De Volkskrant and living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Dwarf Empire is currently exhibited in Le Petit Espace, Paris, and part of the International Photobook Dummy Award 2014 exhibition that travels to various locations.