Jiangxin Zhang (b. 1998, Taiyuan, China) is a photographer based in Taiyuan and Glasgow. His work focuses on recreating memories of the unsearchable self, often using multiple means to create images, and he often incorporates his childhood memories to question their authenticity and to observe how uncontrollable emotions flow when unrecognisable memories come into play. Much of his work is inspired by literature, and he constructs his reflections on the self through the medium of photography.
He entered the Glasgow School of Art in 2021 to continue his pursuit of photography. His work has been exhibited in Beijing, Glasgow and London.
How far is the universe? (2021-ongoing)
Taiyuan is an inland city of China, surrounded by mountains on three sides of the city, so anywhere in the city, looking to the distance, you can almost vaguely see a mountain. But unlike the snow-capped mountains seen in Glasgow, the mountains on the city’s border are made of yellow earth, making the whole city look lifeless.
I was born in this city and, according to my mother, my childhood was not like that of a normal child; I did not cry from birth until I met a stranger, which was a very unusual thing to do. I was the second child in my family and in 1998, due to the large population of China, China had a limit on the number of children per family; if you had more than one child you had to pay quite a lot of money and at that time my family did not have enough money to pay. I was hidden away by my parents for two years because they were afraid the neighbours would hear me crying, but I didn’t cry for two years. Maybe it was because the windows were blue-green in those days and the blue-green room kept me calm at all times. After this, my father sought the help of many people before I was able to register. But the experience of those two years may be the reason why I grew up with a fear of society and why I grow up to this day crying more easily than normal. But for the blue-green room left an eternal but very faint trace in my mind. After I had the basic ability to read, a book called 100,000 Reasons Why stayed with me throughout my childhood. I used to spend quiet nights looking at the sky and pondering just how far away the expanding boundaries of the universe were. This was a very difficult question for a small town child to answer, as I had never been anywhere else but this town.
To this day I stand in Glasgow and re-remember those not-so-real nights of stargazing, and I can hardly tell if it was the starry sky I had imagined, the memories flowing further and further away like water in a river, slowly pouring into a blue-green ocean.
I can’t tell if the memories are real or not, and they are getting blurred, so does it mean that I won’t be able to feel my presence when I lose the ability to feel nostalgic, like I never knew you?