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The Vague Memories

2021

This is a very personal series of photos. It is to depict the theme of time, culture, and change about myself.

One of the most important elements of the project is the red scarf, which was used as a propaganda in many communist countries including China, North Korea, and Soviet Union.

When I was in elementary school, I remember that teachers told us the scarf is emblematic of blood of revolutionary martyrs, and we should be very proud when wearing it.  The red scarf is one of the important China memories exist in my head when I recall my childhood. After living in Canada for many years, the memory about the red scarf and my elementary school life became more and more vague. I decided to do a series of photo called The Vague Memories at the elementary school which I went to to visualize the memory.

The series is comprised of two parts, The Memories and The Vague. The Memories, which is the first part, is a straight documentary photo series of Chinese elementary students. Surprisingly, the life of elementary student does not seem to have been changed too much. This part’s function is to give the audience an objective idea of my or general Chinese elementary student’s life. The second part is called The Vague. The function of this part is to give a subjective view of what I feel about my elementary school life. I invited my friend, who is a student at Art Center College of Design to be my model. She also went to elementary school in China and went abroad during high school. So, I thought she would be good at expressing the idea of The Vague since she has similar experiences as I do. In this part, I asked her to act like an elementary student, by wearing the red scarf and sitting on the student’s seat. To me, the scene is familiar yet strange and somewhat awkward because we have been living in countries with different cultures for many years. At the end, I shot a photo of the empty seats, which depict the elementary school life that will never come back again, and will only remain as a memory. Vaguer and vaguer...

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