Letters for my loved ones from the middle kingdom by Marla Celeste

Marla Celeste is an Indian Australian artist, currently living in Bolivia. This series uses photos taken during a period in which she lived in China in 2015 and through a mixture of digital collage, photography and illustration tells dual narratives. A blend of political and personal imagery conveys the struggle to adapt to an extremely different environment.

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“I ended up living in China for about 3 months before severe depression sent me back home. I was on an internship program placed in a smal industrial city that boasted no listed attractions for tourists other than something called a “High Tech Vegetable Museum” (one of my biggest regrets from this period of time is not visiting it). I was met with a mixture of strong xenophobia, intrigue and disgust. Life was difficult as one of 10 foreigners in a city with a population of a million.

Intertwined throughout these images are many personal instant messages exchanged between myself and others, but primarily with a young woman I was romantically involved with during my stay. If it weren’t for her presence in my life, I highly doubt I would have lasted as long as I did. We exchange grievances and rely on each other heavily in intimate messages that I have included verbatim as they were sent. I feel like the numerous typos convey a certain vulnerability that we shared, which is integral to the series’ narrative. We discuss our relationship, as well as the links between us and others such as ex lovers and family.”

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