I saw this fascinating picture taken by Chinese photographer Lu Guang, which depicts grazing sheep in the Horqin Grasslands outside of Holin Gol, in Inner Mongolia, China. But in fact these are sheep sculptures, which have been placed here by the Holin Gol city government – along with sculptural cattle, horses and camels, in order to project the image that these animals could graze here, despite the truthful fact that pollution from the coal mines has degraded the meadows to where there are no animals left.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen sculptural sheep “grazing” … here’s a look back at September 2013, when an series of sheep sculpture by Francois Xavier Lalanne were part of an art installation at a former Getty Gas Station on 10th Avenue in Chelsea, New York City.

sheep sculptures by Francois Xavier Lalanne

But back to Lu Guang and the photograph at top – we don’t mean to make light of this image or story, as it underscores some serious issues: #1, the obvious problem of pollution from coal and the effect it has on earth via global warming, and #2: Lu Guang is an internationally acclaimed photographer from China, and whose documentary work has shown social, environmental, and economic issues, exposing the lives of people on the margins of Chinese society. He’s in the news because five weeks ago, he was invited to lead an informal, week-long workshop with local photographers in Urumqi, in Western China. He was detained by security services on November 3rd, and no one has heard from him since. So, in all seriousness, let’s hope someone can get the Chinese government to provide some information and to find him safe so that he can return to his family and his work.