A Hundred Stories | By Michelle Ma
Qinglian, who worked as a chemistry professor in southern regions of China, suffered under cancer caused by radiation. She passed away when my father was 18 years old. My grandpa, a stubborn literature Professor, was blamed for his lacking tender to his wife. Since then, chemistry and literature was considered a dangerous profession among the family. Under the Down to the Countryside Movement, cultural workers were forced to become farmers, hence owning a small enterprise in town became my people’s dreams.
Old rules continued to dominate society. But in some places, traditions were fading away and being supplanted by modern dreams. When I was born, a series of economic and social reforms transitioned the country away from Maoism and toward market capitalism. While the coastal regions grew, not everyone abandoned the old ways of living. This resulted in a paradoxical presence of popular culture elements and ambiguous symbols of globalization, mixed with our mundane lives.
In my project, A Hundred Stories, I photographed dwellers, strangers, and family relatives living in Southern China to regions of north bordering Russia. I also intertwined modified images with family archives. Taking photographs of my hometown has given me a chance to reflect on people whom I have not valued. I found that these people, who lives in a different time from the real world, and those who live in a fast-developing city, share the same mind-set. The silent wind of time has continued to blow. The process brought me a strange feeling of satisfaction, which only a hundred stories can reveal.
Sijia Ma (b. 2001 in Shenyang, China), is a visual artist based in Shanghai and MA. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Studio Arts and Quantitative Economics at Smith College, MA. She also studied Graphic Design at Yale University and Photography at Amherst College in 2020. Sijia has worked to develop image-based projects and used the language of photography to explore the complexity of today’s Chinese identity in a subtler way.
Instagram: https: @michelle_sijiama
Photo Essay edited by Alejandra Martínez Moreno