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It’s a photographic story about bearing and giving up on my grandmother. There are two chapters. The theme of the first one is ‘bearing’, focusing on my grandmother’s sister Mao-Mao. The special kinship between her and Mao-Mao became a burden. Mao-Mao got encephalitis at ten because of a persistent high fever, which impeded her brain development. Therefore, for decades, my grandma took care of Mao-Mao until she married my Grandfather and moved to another town, but she still visited Mao-Mao every week since then. The second chapter is about ‘giving up’. The village of my hometown was demolished, and familiar neighbors moved to cities. Grandmother’s house is in a pile of ruins, just like an isle. Economic development is like a tide, bringing demise and rebirth.
Grandma’s teeth are bad, sometimes they hurt so much that Grandma could not sleep at night. I use two different degrees of dental caries as metaphors for Mao-Mao and hometown demolition. Mao-Mao is like a decayed tooth that has not yet rotted and reached the pulp. The progress of the tooth enamel being eroded is like the burden Mao-Mao brings to Grandma’s life. This kind of caries can be repaired, and people use them more carefully because of ailments, but the tooth may continue to rot and cause pain in the future. Demolition of my hometown is like a decayed tooth that can only be cured through root canal treatment. The process of pulp extraction is like the memory of the village destroyed by the demolition. The treatment works for good but as the pain goes away, the teeth never feel the way they used to. I explored the inextricable connection between people and their loved ones and the land by photographing the lives of my grandmother and Mao-Mao and the changes in the landscape of the village. By doing so, I realize the tenacity, insufferableness, and lingering depression that people have when they need to make the choices of ‘give up’ and ‘bear’. 


Geyujing Shen was born in 1999 in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, she obtained  an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her works focus on urban-rural migration, collective memory, intimacy, and identity. In her ongoing project “Whether Every Tree’s Birthday Falls In the Spring”, she attempts to discuss the significance of belonging and community space for the Chinese female queers who live in London from personal memory. Jing’s work has been exhibited in London, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Xiamen.

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