Masked, 2020

Inspired by Ellis Hutch

Created by Jingyi Wang

Photographed by Yuexin Zhao

March 2020, in Canberra



Hide and Seek




That mask




Will you stop?


When I interviewed Ellis Hutch, I took it for granted that her extraordinary photo series, the lost astronaut, was shot in Canberra. She corrected me with a gentle smile that it was actually made in Finland. This was the first time I had ever interviewed anyone. The interview had just started, and I was nervous with my not-perfect English. I was embarrassed, but her easy language defused my embarrassment.

"I took those photos in a place that is foreign to me...maybe that's part of what you're connecting to [because as a newcomer you thought they were taken in Canberra]", she said. 

Yes, empathy, isn't that what art is for? Even though we have different nationalities, different languages and different educations, we can still get resonance from a work of art. It's hard to describe that feeling in words, even though we're always trying to interpret every work of art.

I was inspired by the work of Ellis Hutch. So, I drove around Canberra, looking for places that gave me impulses, places that I had not only experienced in Ellis' work, but places that occurred in my dreams. Remote, unknown, lonely. I'm lucky to find them, by Lake Burley Griffin, alongside Lake Tuggeranong, at the Molonglo River Nature Reserve, and on the highway to Yass.

Living in a big city since my childhood, I am used to tall buildings and crowds. Although I had heard of Canberra, it was not until I came in February 2019 that I found such an empty and quiet capital in the world. Living in a foreign country, I understand that language barriers and cultural differences make it difficult for me to integrate into the local community. In Canberra, my friends are still Chinese like me. I'm more used to going to Asian supermarkets, I prefer to eat Chinese food, and I'm more willing to speak freely in Chinese.

I looked at the quiet city from a distance like an outsider.


Oddly, however, that doesn't mean I don't love the city.


On the contrary, I love it here.


I always miss it when I go to a big city like Sydney or Melbourne when I watch the hustle and bustle fly past my shoulders. Beneath the distance, Canberra seemed to be the haven of my imagination, a hard-protective shell, a place I could proudly talk to my friends about.


It seems to have become my hometown, a place that reminds me of the taste of home.


Perhaps, for an introvert, it was the environment that reassured me. As a stranger, the emptiness and silence of Canberra made me feel a strange and peaceful sense of alienation. At the top of Mount Ainslie, I would hear my own inner voice; From the observatory on Mount Stromlo, I would be curious about the mysteries of the universe; By the side of Lake Burley Griffin, I would ponder the philosophy of the relationship between man and nature.


Alienation was never a word that made me feel uncomfortable or fearful. Being apart from other people means that I have more time to learn to get along with myself, and I truly enjoy the process of getting along with myself. To listen to my inner voice, to become what I want to be, unrestrained and unruly, is my life's pursuit.


I'm here, I love here, but I can’t, and I don't want, to fit in here.


This is, probably, how I feel as an outsider.

当我在采访Ellis Hutch时,我理所当然地以为她创作的那组格外吸引人的系列照片“迷失的宇航员”是在堪培拉拍摄的。她笑着纠正我,那其实是在芬兰。那是我人生中的第一次采访,采访刚刚开始,我紧张的用着我并不娴熟的英语。我很尴尬,她却轻松的语言化解了我的尴尬。她说,这很有趣,也许堪培拉对你来说是一个陌生的地方,正如芬兰对我来说也是个陌生的环境,那就是为什么我们分享了共同的情感,我们就是这样有情感共鸣的。


Ellis Hutch的作品带给了我灵感。于是我驱车在堪培拉寻找,寻找那些能够给我冲动的地方,那些我不仅在Ellis的作品中真切感受过的地方,更是那些出现在我梦中的地方。遥远,渺小,孤独。我很庆幸我找到了它们,在格里芬湖畔,在Lake Tuggeranong,在Molonglo River自然保护区,在去往Yass的高速公路旁。