I have been living and studying at Teesside University in Middlesbrough, a small town in the northeast of England for almost a year. As the central landmark of the area, Teesside University has about 300 Chinese students, in addition to a group of Chinese who serve the international l students with roots here.
During this year, I photographed the Chinese community in Middlesbrough, such as supermarket owners, Chinese restaurant operators, students, and became one of them. The Chinese community is a more marginalized group of people in this marginalized city, with a close and subtle relationship between their immigrant status and Chinese heritage at the same time. They are both eager to integrate into the local environment and come to the UK in search of a better life, but also unable to completely detach themselves from their ties to Chinese culture, as their identity gives them distance from each other and the need to find "belonging" - a sense of cultural identity from China, familiar memories and flavors from home. Supermarket owners, Chinese restaurant operators and Chinese students were photographed there. Some of them obtained permanent residence status in the UK. Some of them will only stay here for 1-2 years, and I try to play the role of the subject, bringing myself into different environments, professions, hobbies and identities, and in the process, I also think about the alienation of identity - is it possible to be truly accepted by the outside world? Does one have to find a way to accept new cultures?
I choose to show my work in the form of two photos juxtaposed, two as a group, one is the local Chinese I photographed, the other is my imitation of the photographed, trying to blur the relationship and distinction between me and the local immigrants, and at the same time, to feel the difference and mixed sense of different identities and different ethnicities in the imitation.
The contrast between the reality of life in the UK and my fantasy is the core of my work. I try to challenge people's traditional perceptions of the immigrant community and try to make more people understand the situation faced by contemporary Chinese immigrants through this way.