Under the Lychee Tree (2020-ongoing) is a photographic project that confronts the human condition through themes related to memory, grieving, and the cycle of reincarnation. By creating metaphorical images and symbols in the objects and historical landscape, I am looking for the subjective image of the place where I grew up, aiming to create an allegory to illustrate intimacy, the impermanence of life and implicit emotions.
The relationship with local myths, folklore and their imagined content is the source of information for the works, and this strategy functions as visual and textual parables. Mount Luofu, a sacred mountain not far from my home, was also a place fit for the gods in the writings of the ancient Chinese poet Liu Yuxi. In the past, people who lived here could see the sun at midnight; A traditional Chinese fable, The Butterfly Dream, posed philosophical arguments that human beings are hard to distinguish the exact boundary between reality and illusion. Everything can be transformed mutually; At the local funeral, people will remind each other not to harm any animal or insect as our dead relatives may come back as various creatures. These fragments have inherited the spiritual sustenance from generations, seeking an understanding of life, death, love, and the courage to confront the loss.
The romanticized historical landscapes, still life, and portraits construct the intersection of reality and memory, in which a certain sense of separation from reality can be discerned. As a way to deal with trauma, crisis, and uncertainty, how can we reconstruct new narratives by connecting history and memory through visual creation, to have a conversation with the past human experiences? In times of crisis, emotional resonance with others brings comfort and psychological relief. We are still relying on the illusion created by these visual stories – for avoiding our inner desires and fears, to confront the prospect of loss and nothingness.
All images ©Jiaxin Liang