My thesis focuses on the family archive and remembrance in photography in relation to family narrative. My interest stems from discovering my family’s extensive and obsessive collection of personal archival materials which include photographs, audio and video tapes, letters, and diaries. Through looking at these various items, I find repeated examples of assimilation, western idealization, the performance of class and gender, and the playing of fantasy.
My work consists of documentary photographs and videos, fabrications of snapshots and formal portraits inspired by the aesthetics of Chinese melodramas and Chinese nostalgic beauty portraits. My work also involves the tampering and curating of the existing archive. I find importance in storytelling as a process to remember history, but also understand the malleability of it. Through developing narratives of Cantonese women in my works, I explore the politics of self, identity, and the cultural influence of western individualism.
Half Wishing, Half Re-Remembering examines the relationship between the making of a memory and being in search of a memory. I focus on fictionalizing a personal narrative and make the desired and alternate self plausible. My work that embodies the family portrait fills the lack, and creates a fictionalized memory. The act of re-inserting these back into the existing archives is to blend the re-imagined narratives- to make them feasible, tangible, and accessible.
Throughout the two-year process of making this series, I have periodically conducted first-hand research and interviews to understand and question my family’s history and traditions that they practice. Wedding culture is something specific I have explored in my work, specifically in terms of its relations to the roles in Chinese family households, the carrying of generational traditions, as well as the performance of gender.
My work speaks about the familial relationships, generational differences, traumas, and misunderstandings as well as my re-interpretations of my family’s narrative. My work creates a space to focus on the women in my family, as their stories have often been misheard and disregarded. I see my work as both a celebration and a critique of familial culture and relationships, and finding the balance and ways of approaching the two.
Thesis solo show Images (More to come)