The photograph — as a representation of time and subject — constantly reminds me of the moment when the shutter was pressed, and the fact that the moment depicted has already passed. The relationship portrayed may have changed; the photographed people may be gone; the documented place may be far away.

Motivated to emphasize nostalgia and a longing for an idealized illusion of the past, I create scenes that visualize the emotions and conflicts associated with the loss of certain people and days.

I print my photographs in a life-size scale, and use them to build believable spaces. Then I photograph myself posing in front of these prints, interacting with the people depicted in the prints, as if I am re-living that moment, or living in that relationship again, or doing something that I wish I had done.

However, while I am constructing these images, the visual flaws and cracks keep showing and breaking the illusion.

In this unrealized gesture, a sense of loss, a growing distance and a genuine desire are all captured the moment when I photograph myself interacting with the illusions.

— Jiayue Yu

This work was a winner of the LensCulture Critics’ Choice Awards 2022. You can discover all of the winning photographers and their projects on the winners’ page.