Wei is a photo journalist and multimedia producer based in United States & China. She is a self-starter, having learned photography through watching, trying, succeeding and failing – on the streets. Her work have appeared in New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Bangor Daily New and Beijing Evening News. Wei has also received Magnum Foundation and nominated by World Press Photo Joop Masterclass. Her most recent project is about the Mexico border crisis and the life of immigrants in North Carolina, collaborating with New York Times. This body of work was a part of her thesis in the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts program at Duke University which she graduated from this past May, 2016. Today we share a section of this series, Neither Here Nor There.
Neither Here Nor There
I was born and raised in Beijing, China, when I was seven years old, my parents had to work overseas so they sent me to my grandfather’s, at his home in Dandong, on the border of China and North Korea. My grandfather’s house was 20 miles away from the border, I remembered people fled from North Korea and came to China, I was drawn even at that young age, to the vulnerable and suffering of the people who left their own country for a better life. My memories and experiences of the China – North Korea border encourage me to tell stories of migration which is embedded in the human psyche. When I was pursuing a BA degree in English literature, I found the real world richer and broader than what can be learned from books. My grandfather gave me my first camera as a birthday gift, and at that time, I figured out photography would take me to different parts of the world to satisfy my curiosity.
Migration is embedded in the human psyche. It is part of our early hunter-gatherer history, part of our DNA. Migration is tied to the human spirit, which seeks adventure, pursues dreams, and finds reasons to hope even in the most adverse circumstances.
In recent years, many Latinos from Mexico, Central America, and South America have made the decision to migrate – whether legally or illegally – to the United States. The ethics of migration are complex. There are also many perspectives on why people migrate, how people migrate, the impact migration has on receiving, transit, and sending countries, and whether countries should encourage or limit migration.
This project documents aspects of contemporary migration from the perspectives and stories of ordinary people. Through photographs and video, it tells the story of one Latino family who crossed the border to the U.S seventeen years ago, and despite the great distance and long separation, maintains important connections to their family in Central America.
To view more of Wei’s work, please visit her website.