Bound Feet Blues tells stories from my family’s past as passed down the generations by the women – my mum, my great-grandmother, my auntie. In researching these stories for the show – and also the book that I am currently working on – I looked through my personal photo albums and also asked my mum to send me photos from hers. It was fascinating to watch my family and I evolve, grow up and grow old over the years.
So when I came across this photo project of four sisters photographed every year for forty years by Nicholas Nixon, I was captivated. The forty photos are intimate, moving, poignant.
Susan Minot in this NY Times article says:
“Throughout this series, we watch these women age, undergoing life’s most humbling experience. While many of us can, when pressed, name things we are grateful to Time for bestowing upon us, the lines bracketing our mouths and the loosening of our skin are not among them. So while a part of the spirit sinks at the slow appearance of these women’s jowls, another part is lifted: They are not undone by it. We detect more sorrow, perhaps, in the eyes, more weight in the once-fresh brows. But the more we study the images, the more we see that aging does not define these women. Even as the images tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what it looks like to grow old, this is the irrefutable truth, we also learn: This is what endurance looks like.”
Do go over to the NY Times article and look at all 40 photos.
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Earlier this year, photographer Paul Cox came over to take a series of photos of me for a photography project focusing on storytellers. He was travelling around the South East of England taking pictures of storytellers in their natural habitat – or rather the places where they got their inspiration. Among the storytellers he had collected were those who specialised in folk tales, myths and legends and local places. I was his only subject whose work is around personal narrative with an East Asian twist.
It was fascinating to watch him work, using a medium format camera and film – yes, film! It was one of those old fashioned looking cameras that you look down at. He also used a light meter. It all felt very charming and old fashioned!
Here is another of the shots below… These pics show me in my garden where Continue reading →
I have been working on the slides for my talk The Allure of Bound Feet, which I will be giving as part of the SEA ArtsFest 2014 Panel on Heritage in Asian Diasporic Performance.
Here is one of my slides where I will be talking about the process of footbinding and the fact that it can take up to ten years to be fully completed. The photos show girls at different ages with bound feet to illustrate the passing of time.
At the moment I have about 17 slides in total. The other slides will include woodcuts of ancient Chinese erotica – you can’t really talk about footbinding without talking about the sex appeal of the tiny foot – and also cross-gender Continue reading →
It looks almost like torture. The bones in the foot sit in an excruciating 90-degree bend and the nails in the stiletto make it look like some medieval tool of pain. This is a woman in high heels, photographed not with normal visible light, but with high-energy x-ray radiation of the sort doctors use to examine broken bones.
That’s the description in this Guardian article about the photo below, by art photographer Hugh Turvey
I’m excited to find this image and to learn about … Continue reading →