The Way to the Golden Mountain
Cal Garbat, Patio
Dedicated to my hometown.
In 1999 I was a teenager when I moved from China to The Netherlands.
In 2009 I went back to the city where I come from.
Wenzhou is a large port city in the eastern province of Zhejiang with a population of three million. I was overwhelmed by the changes and the combination of memories and contemporary experiences.
In 2013 I travelled even closer to my roots, this time to the emigration towns around Wenzhou – a region from which many of the Chinese immigrants in The Netherlands come from and to the village where I was born. From the 1960s through the 1980s, the residents moved to Europe mainly for economic reasons. They nourished the dream of the “golden mountain” by sending money home without telling about the hard labor and long hours of work abroad. Inspired by the dream of a better life, most of the young people have left the emigration towns.
I took photos of those who stayed behind and their surroundings. At the same time I investigated the memories from my childhood. The result is very personal and yet universal at the same time.
Both series are bundled in this book, as a homage to the place where I was born and partially raised, then left and finally rediscovered and embraced.
Xiaoxiao Xu (1984, China) was born in southeast Qingtian, China. As a teenager, she immigrated to the Netherlands and spending half her life here changed her view of China.
As an artist, her work is very fluid and it is difficult to categorize as she is both an insider and an outsider. Her photography is also difficult to place; she chooses to shoot locations, people, and objects in a way that challenges viewers’ perceptions and succeeds in arousing confusion and conveying feelings of alienation. Undivorced from her personal history, in her work Xu, manages to create a comfortable balance between her origins and her present life.
She graduated cum laude from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam in 2009, and she has published four photo books since 2014, including The Way to the Golden Mountain (2014), Aeronautics in the Backyard (2016), Watering my Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall (2020), and Shooting the Tiger (2022).
With the collaboration of Casa Asia