Maiden Voyage

Since leaving my home at 18, I spend every summer back where I grew up. I have always wanted to become closer to someone, strangers, friends, lover and even family, but I am bad at this. Photography became my romanticized shelter, a place where I can respond to endlessly uncertain events. From the tropical plants trembling outside the brick wall in Xujiahui Park, to the broken glasses I found under the sculpture near my house, I isolate my subjects; push them to the corner to pull the viewer in, from intimacy to distance. My desire to do so is informed by a constant transition between China and the United States; naiveté and disguise, while still feeling ambivalent about both lands. Negotiating my struggle with attachment, my photographs chronicle my psychological undercurrent in both lands. As I continue my curious exploring, I am waiting for the story to unfold.

  • Amiko Li
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"The pictures don’t seem to be trying to convince us of anything as fact; they allow us room to wonder. They are strong images in terms of colour, composition and light. I like their straight forwardness and unpretentiousness. I like the freedom to ‘roam’ rather than being directed." - Craig Atkinson

"I am always looking to be surprised and intrigued by a body of work, series of images or single image and Maiden Voyage provides evidence of a developing visual language that is informed by the contemporary photographic environment but not defined or dominated by it." - Grant Scott

"In Maiden Voyage, Amiko Li uses photography, as many do - to make sense of the world he finds himself in. Moving between the States and his home country of China, Li turns to image-making to make the journeying easier to manage. His images, ethereal and sensitively shot, possess a quiet poetry, and give a glimpse into the mind of a young photographer trying to make his way in the world. I love the delicate colours and careful use of light in this series; there is something about the work - a mystical quality perhaps - that makes me want to keep looking to see what I might uncover. An exciting new talent and a deserving winner - I look forward to seeing where Li goes next. " - Gemma Padley

"The photographs that stay with me are often those which leave questions unanswered, and therefore allow for a lasting interaction, with photographer and viewer each bringing their own meanings. The photographs which form Maiden Voyage were compelling in their assured composition and style, yet their quietness and sense of intrigue was also very appealing. " - Helen Trompeteler

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