FAMILIARS/似曾相识 | YEAR: 2010~2017

FAMILIARS (part two): Ghost Memories

"Those on the brink of being forgotten will soon transform into hues and light, ultimately evolving into the fertile ground of imagination."

The publication of this photography album was initiated by the publisher Xu Ning and was released by his art platform "YT Pictures" in early 2018. At that time, I had concluded my 8-year life in New York and returned to Beijing. I began organizing some photos taken between 2010 and 2017. The original intentionwas to use this photography collection as a means to explore the subtle relationship between the physiological and psychological motivations behind (at least my personal) photographic behavior, as well as the interplay between imagery and my personal memories. The photos in the collection were taken in Beijing, by the sea in Tangshan, Hebei, in the central oil fields of He Nan, the old town of Yu Men in Gan Su, in the cities of Georgia and Pennsylvania in America as well as in the Czech Republic, Poland, Singapore, Pyongyang in North Korea and Havana. The second part, "Ghost Memories," includes photographs taken in different cities around the world.

似曾相识 (第二部分): 幽灵回忆



Work Title:FAMILIARS (+ work number)
Year:2010 ~ 2018
Work Dimension:110cmx110cm or 150cmx150cm
Edition: 3+1AP
作品名称:似曾相识 (+ 作品号)
年份:2010 ~ 2018
作品尺寸:110cmx110cm 或者 150cmx150cm
版号: 3+1AP

Book Preface (excerpt from the article)

Summer 2015. I drove from New York down the eastern seaboard towards Miami in high anticipation of all the images that I would be shooting. Yet after being on the road for many days, driving along Route 95, neither churches or houses, men or women of any race, nothing served to pique my interest. Eventually, it was the dark floral curtains in a motel next to a highway in Georgia that inspired me to take a photograph. It took a moment for me to realise this was because I was unable to find any of my memories here. I recognised then that photography is all about the search for some image in your own memory. It could be a space, an object, a colour or a light, but we photograph to repair or to resuscitate some image in our memory (or perhaps even in our subconscious) that is about to fade away. It is just like taking medicine so that our ebbing lives can last longer. We don’t have any interest in capturing any image that isn’t in our memory, even a beautiful church won’t interest me as much as a dilapidated classroom.

Emotions are memories, imagination is like recall. What inspires us to press the shutter has almost no connection with representing truth, we are merely searching amongst reality to try and find an image we once knew. This is what inspires me to continue forging ahead holding my camera, just like a ghost who searches for the previous life he cannot return to, hoping that at some place, in some moment, he can be re-united with the image buried deep in his memory. We are always re-building the world of our imagination, and have never really been interested in reality. Not even a little.

Thinking back to that dusky night in the 80s, the uniformed men and brightly clad women standing by the railroad have already become so faded they blend into the dark blue twilight. Row after row of railroad sleepers appear on the horizon almost like curtain blinds, opened neatly and with dark red flowers embroidered on top. After thirty years, the fear of that night has turned into a warm recollection, you have started polite small talk with the enemy in your memories, and eventually shook hands and made your peace. We are not truthful to our memories, we never have been. We are unable to forget them, but they became diluted, their shapes and colours and lights all changed. When you go back to remember, they have already decomposed to become fertile ground for your imagination.