Since 2011, Zhang has shifted all his work to the hometown he knows best, a place closely associated with his growth and memory. At the beginning, he created a series of works through polaroid emulsion lift, as a metaphor for the process of tearing and repairing himself and his hometown, and through these collage images, to find a balance between memory and reality.
And the Zhang Xiao at that time, to the hometown, is more like a wandering kid in the village, aimlessly looking for the hometown “ruins” in the reflective coins. He dumped all the old stuff out of the old drawers of his house, rummaged through his relatives’ old photo albums, roamed the photo studios hidden in the market, and even borrowed the village council’s rural cooperative medical certificate for everyone in the village in order to get a portrait of all villagers.
In his work on hometown, Zhang Xiao quotes Fei Xiaotong in His work Rural China : “Every specific living group has its special language, and there are many words and phrases that cannot be translated in other languages. These images of hometown are just some language that projects the complex relations in the local society into the flat consumption ideology and aesthetic logic.”
During the research of his hometown, Zhang Xiao gradually built up, or rediscovered the rural “aesthetics” surrounding him at his early ages, that various kinds of visual perception, schema, text, color which is in compatible to the urban, fashionable, modern, however, to some extent, sources from people’s imagination to the city, the authority and yearning of a better life .
In his scattered exploration of his hometown, the symbol “Apple” is of more significance to Zhang Xiao than other works. If all of Zhang Xiao’s works about his hometown are spread out on a map, we will find that Zhang Xiao’s works about apples, as if in the center of such a village, build an orchard. He said: “From the macro perspective of ‘Them’ and ‘Coastline’, to the return to my hometown, and then to Apple, my creation has a process from ‘surface’ to ‘line’, from ‘line’ to ‘point’. After that, I hope to eliminate the geographical “dot” in my hometown and replace it with something more symbolic — an apple.”