Yi Xie is from Guangzhou, China. In 2017, he graduated from International Center of Photography. Recently, he received his BA in photography from Bard College. He will be returning to China to work as a teacher while pursuing his personal projects. His work deals with themes of belonging, tradition, and urbanization. As the work is both an intimate meditation and a documentation, it blurs the boundary between the personal and the collective.
Like many Chinese kids of my generation, I grew up in a Xiao Qu (小区), literally “micro-district”. Modeled on residential complexes of the Soviet Union, the Xiao Qu is a gated-community, usually enclosed by walls and natural obstacles. As the country’s economy began to open up for more commercial real estate developers, micro-districts mushroomed. These “urban villages” provided housing and living facilities such as hospitals, schools, and supermarkets. Moreover, man-made sceneries are often implanted in order to make the Xiao Qu a more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable place to live in. Today, the Xiao Qu has become the epitome of the contemporary, middle-class Chinese life.
When I began this project, I wanted to portray the Xiao Qu simply as absurd and odd. However, I quickly realized that there are more layers to the micro-district than artificiality and strangeness. This work became a rediscovery of the place I once called home. To me, the Xiao Qu is a product of contemporary China, a nation undergoing dramatic change, while being disconnected from (sometimes violently rejected of) its past. However, despite of the rapid transformation, life in the Xiao Qu seems to carry on with its mundane daily rhythm, like an unbreakable spell.
What drives me is continue this work is no longer cynicism but a curiosity about the meaning of home and belonging.
To view more of Yi Xie’s work please visit his website.