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OPEN 2022


Sijia Ma

Sijia Ma, China

A Hundred Stories


Sijia’s grandma, Yulian, worked as a chemistry professor in southern regions of China, and suffered from cancer caused by radiation. Under the ‘Down to the Countryside Movement’, Yulian was forced to become a farmer, hence owning a small enterprise in town became her dream. From the coldest north to the warm south, people define home as where they find themselves, migration means grief, but also freedom, an escape from the old rules. 


Old rules continued to dominate society. But in some places, traditions were fading away and being supplanted by modern dreams. When Sijia was born, a series of economic and social reforms transitioned the country away from Maoism and toward market capitalism. Her family moved to southern China, where they lived in small rural towns. While the coastal regions grew, Silja’s mother, Yuning, did not abandon the old ways of living. This resulted in a paradoxical presence of popular culture elements and ambiguous symbols of globalisation, mixed with their mundane lives. 


In Sijia’s project, A Hundred Stories, she photographs her mother Yuning and relatives living in Southern China and regions in the north bordering Russia. She also intertwined modified images with family archives. ‘’It is the place where we find ourselves that speaks to freedom. For so long, I’ve been carrying this project around, the silent wind of time has continued to blow. The process brought a strange feeling of satisfaction, which only a hundred stories can reveal’’.


Sijia, is a visual artist based in Shanghai and MA. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Studio Arts and Quantitative Economics at Smith College, MA. She also studied Graphic Design at Yale University and Photography at Amherst College in 2020. Sijia has worked to develop image-based projects and used the language of photography to explore the complexity of today’s Chinese identity in a subtler way.

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