Photography is like a universal language; it connects people's minds and emotions; it drives me to know the experiences and relationships I have. I use photography to know and understand myself, as well as what I have learnt, from big to small cultural principles. Through photography, I look at my life when I was younger; I am interested in how my memories of the past can be used to explore my identity and search for belonging in Aotearoa. My experiences are culturally Chinese, even though I only partially grew up in China then travelled to Aotearoa to live; I am like a Chinese sojourner. I view making photographs as akin to a conversation with myself and my past. My images are a way of talking about and communicating what I see, feel, and think of the world that surrounds me, be it in China or Aotearoa.
This work explores ideas of knowing and understanding oneself. For me, what I have received and learnt, from big to small cultural principles comes from my parents. As an adult, I need to be responsible for my life, which is made up of relationships as written about in the book, "Freedom from the known": "You can't rely on anyone, there is no guide, no teacher, and no authority. You only rely on yourself, your relationship with others, and your relationship with the world. Other than that, you have nothing to do.”
My artworks focus on my experiences and relationships. Through photography, I'm looking at my life when I was younger and exploring my identity, my sense of belonging and self-searching. Photography is like a universal language; it connects people's minds and emotions. For me, photography informs how I see, feel and think of the world that is around me.
When I was thirteen, my parents and I moved from Chongqing, China to Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand. I went from a familiar living environment to a strange and brand new place. From the beginning, I was curious about this new place, while also being a little timid. My life in New Zealand is very different from my life in China. These photographs explore this difference. When I first came to Aotearoa, I had no sense of safety, until I acclimatised. No matter how many years it has been since we left our hometown, I still miss my previous life and my family and friends. I miss the sense of a familiar hometown. When I look at our old photographs, I find the feeling and memories of my hometown Chongqing. When living in China, we often celebrated birthdays and festivals together as an expanded family. My Grandparents always came to my mother's clinic to visit us. We cared for and looked after each other. My childhood life is with those adults in Chongqing.
I am interested in how my memories of the past can be used to explore my identity and search for belonging in Aotearoa. Photography contains both ideas of truth and the past. I am reminded of the Chinese philosopher Tang Chun-I and his theory of fall of fruit and flowers(花果飘香); fallen fruit and flowers are rooted to where they fall(落根自植). Tang Chun-I’s suggests that no matter how far flowers drift on water, they are always strongly connected to their roots, which are established deeply in a place. My experiences are culturally Chinese, even though I only partially grew up in China then travelled to another country to live, like a Chinese sojourner.