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Wenxuan Wang: Back to Nowhere

Born in 1996, Beijing, China. Currently lives and works in London, England.


From time to time, we look back at our lives. We recall people and events, thoughts and feelings, even sometimes we purposely think back, trying to reconstruct. Such retrospection, both purposive and spontaneous, is called reminiscence. Nevertheless, past memories may be distorted, and there is a void between what is real and what is fantasy. In the photographic series In Back to Nowhere (2020), Wenxuan Wang selectively encapsulated areas where she had lived – mainly places where a sense of familiarity presided. Through her photographs, the viewer finds places which have been abandoned or rebuilt due to gentrification, as if everything that had been solid had vanished. Recognizing our own limitations of remembering past events, Wenxuan Wang’s photographic series aims to explore how the nesting of family archives and environment exposes the strangeness and loss of control of a sense of boundaries in an oppressive environment. The photographic work is a proximity that creates a survey of several locations, families, and persons and ultimately showcases a questioning of how we experience and remember. By destroying the images as a means of reflecting on family history and addressing psychological issues, In Back to Nowhere smudge the intersection between illusion and memory. Hereby, the images begin to disintegrate, revealing a landscape inhabited by ghosts of the past. A false emotional attachment that in reality is an inward questioning of how to escape the barren emptiness that hides behind the curtain of remembering.

After completing her bachelor degree in the Communication University of China, Wenxuan Wang continued to develop her practice by studying an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London. Her work focuses on the absence, the distortion of dynamic memory, and the return of repression in the unconscious questioning if the archive, history and identity could be the pillars of reconstructing a narrative of alienation. Her work has been exhibited at places such as Fusion in Nottingham and Unit 1 Gallery in London.

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Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt