Since leaving my home at 18, I spend every summer back where I grew up. I have always wanted to become closer to someone, strangers, friends, lover and even family, but I am bad at this. Photography became my romanticized shelter, a place where I can respond to endlessly uncertain events. From the tropical plants trembling outside the brick wall in Xujiahui Park, to the broken glasses I found under the sculpture near my house, I isolate my subjects; push them to the corner to pull the viewer in, from intimacy to distance. My desire to do so is informed by a constant transition between China and the United States; naiveté and disguise, while still feeling ambivalent about both lands. Negotiating my struggle with attachment, my photographs chronicle my psychological undercurrent in both lands. As I continue my curious exploring, I am waiting for the story to unfold.
I pursue melancholia. In the moment of its photographic capture, I discover the cruel reality of society that is embedded in the sophisticated beauty of my surroundings. My photographs contain projections of personal experiences; they are a distillation of complex emotions. I isolate my subjects; push them to the corner to pull the viewer in, from intimacy to distance. Informed by my hopes and disappointments, I attempt to romanticize my problematic experiences and naiveté through atmospheric portraiture, landscape and still life that show periods of waiting, quietness and negative space.
I make my mind blank and seek something that is normally hidden that I can draw out. This may be an empty corner or the unknown thoughts of a train passenger. These photographs of lonely subjects reflect my vulnerabilities and changing perspective of life. By delicately preserving fragile moments of intimacy with my subject (be it human or inanimate), I coax the viewers to reconsider and recall their own personal histories and relationships.
Amiko Wenjia Li was born in 1993 in Shanghai. He received his BFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was the recipient of the 2014 Center Project Launch Award Juror's Choice, Fred J. Forster Fellowship, and the 133rd Royal Ulster Academy Portrait Prize. His works have been exhibited internationally including Aperture Foundation, New York; Filter Photo Festival, Chicago; Pingyao Photography Festival, China; Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast, United Kingdom, and others. His works have been featured in numerous publications including American Photography 30; Esquire Russia; Juxtapose Magazine and Lens Magazine China.
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