Due to my parents’ divorce when I was a child, my father was a stranger to me for a long time. My impression of my family before breakup, other than very few fragments of childhood memory, is from my birth place, Guantao County, Hebei Province, which my mother sometimes mentioned.
My father was denounced as a rightist in 1957 and was sent to Wangqiao Village in Guantao County. He was there for 17 years, during which he was introduced to my mother. In 1976, I was born in this place that was neither my parents’ ancestral home nor where they grew up. After the Cultural Revolution, my father was rehabilitated and returned to Beijing to work. From then on, my mother and I commuted between Beijing and Hangzhou. Then my parents divorced, leaving my mother, my brother and I in Hangzhou. I did not see my birthplace, Grantao, for many years. The breakup of my family bothered and confused me while I was growing up. The estrangement from my father diminished my self-identity, and was my greatest psychological problem. Finally, in 2015 I started my journey to “return” to my birth place, planning to find some threads of my family before the break-up, using pictures to reveal my relationship with my family and my self-identity. Moreover, during this period, I began to record the remaining years of my parents’ lives. Their paths never crossed again after their divorce in the early 1980s. I tried to stop viewing them as their child and began to observe them as an equal grownup in order to heal the emotional wounds caused by their divorce and to become reconciled.