from Hong Kong
About the Book
Origin is a project that explores migration using maple trees as a metaphor for the artist’s diasporic experience. Maple has over 200 species and subspecies with different shapes, sizes, and colours. Although the origin of the plant cannot be traced, research suspected that it originated from Asia. The maples then spread to the West through the botanical exchange that happened in the 19th century. Even though the artist is a non-local herself, she has lived in more than 12 places in the city for the past 2.5 years. The stress from the rapid movements and the feeling of lacking a place to call home makes the artist heavily question the idea of home and belonging.
The artist begins the project by collecting fallen maple leaves from the local area in Leeds. These species include Sycamore Maple, Norway Maple, Black Maple, and Silver Maple. By manipulating and creating photographic work from the maple leaves, the artist formulates a connection between her experience and the maple’s history. The emotion is further amplified after the artist returned to her homeland, where she no longer has a place that she could call her ‘home’ anymore. The artist uses a range of approaches to sharing her experience with the viewer, expressing it in terms of the contrast between macro and micro, past and future, movement and static, settlement and diaspora, etc. Without directly photographing the maple trees, these abstract and varied images touch on the periphery of the subject matter, suggesting the ambiguity of the artist’s experience. Quoting Liz Wells, Li’s approach to making art is a way for her to feed their need for a clear sense of identity and cultural belonging.