maandag 2 september 2013
The Sequel Wenzhou (2009) - Xiaoxiao Xu Noorderlicht Photofestival 2013 Photography
Xiaoxiao Xu was 15 when she came to The Netherlands from China. Being torn from her familiar environment was frustrating, and she felt a sense of isolation. In that isolation, Xu says, it was enchanting to discover photography, because with it she could tell her story and show what life was like for her.
In 2009 Xu photographed the city in China that she had come from. Wenzhou is a large port city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, with over a million residents. Many of the Chinese in the Netherlands come from it, or from the towns around it. Xu let herself be overwhelmed by the combination of her memories and the images of contemporary China; her series therefore sketched a picture of the city through the lens of personal and emotional experience.
During her stay there she felt herself identifying with the city, but at the same time also an outsider – the same position that she has in the Netherlands: somewhere in between. By making photographs she seeks to find her balance between two cultures.
For The Sequel Xu is going further in her investigation of her roots. She is going to photograph the emigration towns around the city of Wenzhou, from which she originally came. Many of the towns are emptying out as a result of emigration. On her return in 2009 Xu saw vast changes in the village where she was born. The agriculture and farms had disappeared; the river in front of the house had been filled in for the construction of a motorway. The tranquil village of her memories had been transformed into a town full of bleak concrete high-rises and private homes. Now Xu will try to find the memories from her childhood again, making use of the stories of Chinese residents in the Netherlands from the towns involved, and members of their families who remained behind in China.