Jiehao Su‘s photographs from ‘Borderland’ are a search for clarity, a physical and metaphorical wandering through China in the hope of finding a resolution, an equilibrium between the past and the present, childhood and the onset of adulthood. A carefree existence under the wing of his family to one of being alone in the world as an adult.
This series may be about China and one man’s place within it but it’s also a journey we all take when we leave the nest to pursue our lives, find our path, our own way through the traumas of everyday existence.
In 2006 Jiehao Su’s mother died. That traumatic event led him on to a wandering path through China at a time of rapid urban expansion and rural depopulation. This great upheaval, in his personal life as well as in the world about him, led him into a nomadic state of being. He travelled through the vastness of China, documenting everything he saw; the environmental damage brought upon by urbanisation, the effect of massive economic change in communities and the dissemblance of everything he once knew as a child.
His journey through this brave new world became a process of physical and psychological healing, his images a reflection of this metamorphosis; the boundaries between reality and the imagination, experience and memory, isolation and belonging. All of this dissolving to create a borderland, a space in which he could find a peace within himself. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
Borderland is an ongoing project deeply rooted in my personal history. The images comprise my obsession with the boundaries between reality and imaginary, present experience and memory, isolation and belonging. I use both fiction and non-fiction as themes in my work to rebuild my self-awareness by trying to represent a version of homeland, as well as finding comfort through reconnection to the past. In this sense Borderland is an intimate work of remembrance, tenderness and self-consolation