Xia Zhang

Artist Statement

I create work to catalog the ephemeral and ever changing memories of my past. My work derives from diminishing memories of childhood to my present day endeavors and failures, using mythology to tell and reinforce stories of universal needs and desires.

I attempt to fix misgivings and mistakes that weigh heavily on my mind through a physical process with the objects and materials that are symbolic to me. My obsessive tendencies are carried out through the motions of my hands. They work in a repetitive manner that quickly become automatic and allow my mind to wander into the depths of my subconscious. I fixate on an object that reminds me of someone, or a material that evokes a feeling upon touch. Since childhood, I’ve been pressed to constantly remember the significance of hair, with impressionable comments regarding my appearance. It acts as a measure of beauty, a physical attribute that has come to define my self-confidence. I remember haircuts being exorbitantly emotional as a child, resulting in scenes of me crying and screaming for hours because it was too short to tolerate. I remember important moments based on the length of my hair because it has been an ongoing cycle where I get it cut at the cusp of a new life altering experience. As an adult, I view this ritual as an attempt to purge myself of previous experiences, mistakes, and heartaches to start anew. But that is simply an attempt. It is not physically feasible because hair is a regenerative material. I use it in my work to suggest a recurring level of discomfort and self- deprecation with my identity and ideals of femininity, in conjunction to traditional methods such as sewing, weaving, and pinching clay that are perceived to be “women’s craft”.

Alongside these materials and objects that allude to physical labor and time, I incorporate video and photography into my work. I use these mediums to further document the importance of spent time over a process using my primary tools: my hands. I use video to capture the ephemeral quality of symbolic tasks such as braiding, slicing, or sewing that stands for a personal relationship between the outside and myself. In a way, my practice has turned into a ritualistic practice that I engage in, hoping to find a personal nirvana through our culturally constructed world.

-- Xia Zhang

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