Object • Affection [物·情] links crafted photographs of ancestral objects to contemporary portraits of their owners. These two inseparable collections of photographs — the objects and the portraits — open up a dialogue between past and present. Collated fragments of individual memory set forth certain collective memories. The concept originates from the traditional Chinese aesthetic ‘spiritual wandering with things’ [神與物游] (Liu Hsieh [劉勰], ca. 465– 522).
To wander freely and without motive with an object, deepens our spiritual connection with the ancestors. Imagined and real memories from the collective Chinese consciousness arise. Imbued with emotion, an object, or small fragment of individual memory comes to represent wider collective memories, a whole world of Chinese culture and values.
The photographs in Object • Affection are my collaborative creative output, working with the participating families. It is human nature, we tend to expunge unwanted memories. We talk about the ups and keep the downs to ourselves. However, through gaining trust, and from the sharing of something seemingly insignificant, remarkable unplanned photographs have emerged.
To expand the dialogue, I have included objects collected by public museums, institutions and private collectors. The project is ongoing, with the long-term goal of developing a photo archive that not only provides a meaningful interpretation, but is an expanding document or mode that will sustain and nurture ongoing dialogue about the history and place of the Chinese people in New Zealand.