/18 Family

Dinu Li

The Mother of All Journeys

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, takes it’s inspiration from the memories of the artist’s own mother. Originally told as bed-time stories, his mother’s memories have since become Li’s memories. In 2001, Li worked in collaboration with her, using each other’s recollections as starting points. Embarking on many journeys together, they have attempted to exact the sites of her history. Comparing the actual with figments of their imagination, identifying old haunts transformed in time and the potential of discovering what remain fixed.

Dinu Li’s colour photographs teases out fragmented moments in time, charting rural traditions in a 1920’s China and of communist ideologies during the late 1940’s. Spanning two decades from the mid 50’s, Li turns his attention to a Hong Kong at a stage of transition, morphing from fishing villages into the beginnings of an urban metropolis. Under British administration, it was a time of sweatshops and western influences. And finally, Li focuses on Britain, from a family resettlement in the 70’s era of strikes and de-industrialisation, through to the start of the millennium, of multiculturalism and globalisation.

Aided by family snapshots and Li’s mother’s narration, The Mother of All Journeys triggers a sense of repetition and nostalgia, invoking glimpses of the times we live in. At the core of Li’s work, is a voyage into time, revealing what we remember of a place and what a place might remind us of. It is a sum of the many influences that shape our existence and how identities are formed. Sites loaded with life experiences, lying dormant, waiting to be excavated, examined and reclaimed.