In 1999, as a teenager, Xiaoxiao Xu moved from China to The Netherlands. Photography became her antidote to the isolation that she felt, a means for telling stories and making clear what it was that occupied her.
In 2009 Xiaoxiao Xu started to photograph the city from which she and her parents had come for a series. Wenzhou is a large port city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, with a population of three million.
“I was overwhelmed by the changes. The combination of memories and contemporary experiences. In 2013, I travelled deeper to my roots, this time to the emigration towns around Wen zhou – a region from which many of the Chinese in The Netherlands came, and also the village where iI was born. In the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the residents came to Europe for economic reasons. They nourished the dream of the “golden mountian” by sending money home, without telling about the hard work and long hours. Inspired by the dream of a better life, most of the young people have left the emigration towns. I made photo’s of those who had stayed behind and their surroundings. At the same time I investigated the memories from my childhood. The result is personal and universal at the same time.”
Both series are bundled in The way to the golden mountain, as a homage to the place Xiaoxiao Xu was born, raised, left, rediscovered and loved.