Peatography.family portrait - PhMuseum

Peatography.family portrait

tami xiang

2018 - Ongoing

This series addresses the situation of the 61 million Chinese Left Behind Children in the countryside, who are raised up by their grandparents and only see their parents once a year or once every few years.

The result of rural-urban hukou registration is disparity. This disparity in treatment in education and welfare within the hukou system has resulted in tens of millions of LBC in the countryside. Thus, a substantial proportion of rural households have adopted a strategy that the younger married couples work in the urban area while their elderly parents remain in the rural area to look after the grandchildren as well as keep working on the land to maintain household land rights. The migrants typically send money home and return once a year during the Chinese spring festival for a week. This is the way that the family spends time together in China.

These images are interwoven with a portrait of the children with their grandparents, a portrait of their parents, train tickets and an image of their house as the woven background.

The complexity to the images is the woven surface, reminiscent of the bamboo matting. Weaving is a traditional way for Chinese farmers to make farming and daily-life tools, particularly in the southern provinces such as Wanzhou where Tami’s research project was conducted. The southern parts of China has many flexible and strong bamboos. In the weaving process, bamboo is cut into strips to make things like pack baskets and dustpans for farming or house tools for farmers. Due to the migration of laborers from rural areas to the cities, farming has lost its prosperity and woven products and the weaving skills are gradually disappearing. Tami explained that this method has inspired her to weave family portrait images together, to bring the subject matters from different parts of Chinese life together. In the process of cutting the photographic paper into strips, they represent the LBC’s separation from their parents, and through bringing the pieces together, the process represents their reunions. In the long hours making these works, Tami described that she could feel the heartbreaking moments of their separation and reunion.

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