With a primary focus on staged self-portraits, Chinese photographer Xiner Xu captures images that explore the nuances of intimate relationships. In recent times, she has expanded her artistic practice to look at how nature is affected by human colonization.
In her work, the London-based photographer portrays the tensions and affections we experience in our relations with others. Her self-portraits depict Xu and her partner in different settings in their home, revealing the theme of emotional distance that we sometimes experience in romantic relationships. These frames are positioned in tandem with images of familiar objects, like slippers under the sofa, or her grandfather’s chili plant. With this, the viewer’s observation is felt as an invisible third force through the camera lens, quietly watching without judgement or apathy.
“My study originally started from the intimate relationship between families and lovers, however, I am now also interested in the topic of nature’s assimilation into the human-colonised landscape,” Xu explains to IGNANT. For her, the two themes are related: “At the moment I am observing how nature grows into a city, which fits the idea of a child growing and reentering into the family.” Black and white imagery of leaning trees and scattered leaves on a surface are used as commentary for the process of growth. “The contradiction of constantly reintegrating into the family is similar to the mutual concealment and adaptation of plants and their growing environment. When you are able to hide or assimilate yourself, is this a possible choice to blend in with your environment?” Xu asks.