In the late winter of 2012, I began to work on “Borderland,” an ongoing project deeply rooted in my personal history. Like a mirror of sorts, “Borderland” reflects my years of drifting and discovery in eastern and southern China. Perhaps more importantly, this work documents a life not dissimilar from my own childhood in suburban Guangdong.

I suffered through the death of my mother in 2006, when I was eighteen years old. I left home and found myself rapt in a nomadic state of being, traveling from city to city, documenting what I saw at a sensitive distance. In both physical and psychological respects, this journey became a form of healing. I confronted and grew increasingly curious about issues of family, homeland, identity and existence.

The images I’ve captured for the past two years comprise my obsession with the boundaries between reality and imaginary, present experience and memory, isolation and belonging. I use both fiction and non-fiction as themes in my work to rebuild my self-awareness. With these tools I am seeking to represent a version of home, as well as find comfort in reconnecting with the past.

In this sense, “Borderland” is an intimate work of remembrance, tenderness and self-consolation—an intimate work that is simultaneously and continuously under the pressure of rapid urbanization in contemporary China.

—Jiehao Su


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