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Wenxin Zhang: Beast by the Waterfall Guesthouse 

Hangzhou, China

19.10.2021

How do we distinguishing illusions from memories? An indistinct and blurry haze is created when we try to recall what, where, and why something has happened. However, there is always reason. The photographic series Beast by the Waterfall Guesthouse (2014-now) by Wenxin Zhang depicts a reconstruction of her childhood memories through in-which she explores the boundaries between autobiography and fiction. According to Wenxin Zhang, the overloaded feelings of estrangement and desolation in her journeys between China and the United States of America have transformed her memories into illusions of confinement, making them a juxtaposition of time and space. The photographs are both elusive and enchanting — similar to memories and illusions — creating narratives that are distant-yet-intimate, sensory-yet-intangible, presenting a meeting of physical and mental reality. 

By using the medium of photography, Wenxin Zhang discover a strange land with icicles growing up from roots of the earth, hazy skies surrounding skyscrapers, detained seahorses and humans crawling naked through the woods. Beast by the Waterfall Guesthouse’s becomes a personal view of the world changed, from a given and relatively static universe, showing an ever-moving, progressing ribbon that needs to be pursued. By contradicting from illusions and memories, Wenxin Zhang escaped her routine life and began with these photographs a trip of getting lost into oneselves. 

Wenxin Zhang was born in 1989, Hefei, Anhui Province, China, and she currently lives and works in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Wenxin Zhang holds an MFA from California College, and she has received several awards including Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award, the Magnum Foundation Atlantic Philanthropies Grant and British Journal of Photography’s New Talent and has been exhibited worldwide at Guangdong Museum of Art, InterAccess in Toronto, and The Clemente in New York among others. 

Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt