I Am With Me
When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, I was forced to stay at home for a long time. While everyone began to maintain social distance, I wanted to get in touch with people in reality. I started to explore the mostly unknown private spaces of strangers. We chatted, did everyday things together, and they lent me their clothes so I could ‘be them’. A tacit understanding between my subjects and me was, ‘when I give you a sense of security you need to keep me safe’. This kind of private connection involved exchanging so much personal information that we started to ‘become’ each other.
Li Aixiao was born in 1987, and lives and works in Chengdu, China. She has degrees in journalism (2009) and applied psychology (2009) from Southwest University in Chongqing, China, skills she has used in her ongoing creative practice through photography, performance, and writing.
In 2018, she was named among Art Nova 100 young artists in China, won Artist of the Year at the SAYA Embrace Project, and participated in a residency in Vienna, Austria. In 2020, she won the Jury Choice Award for a self-published book ‘Personal Belongings’ at the Second Wuhan Photo Art Fair. She was named a finalist in Women Photography Project Grants (2022), Head On Portrait Award (2022).
During the Corona pandemic, people became conscious of "social distancing" and believed that they had to distance themselves from others, while at the same time they strongly sought connection through the time they spent in isolation. Physically visiting someone's private space and meeting with a person was unusual in the daily life back then. That is why this work, while seemingly shocking at first glance, somehow looks quite natural. Spending time with others in that coexistence of the ordinary and the extraordinary in such days, the work skillfully expresses the sense of security that many people were seeking, which they could get from the connection with others.