“Solastalgia” by definition it means the distress caused by environmental change. In the case of Shi Yangkun’s series, it is about a form of melancholy evoked by changes that have happened in the used-to-be familiar home context, referring to a special homesickness sensed by people when they are still within the home environment.
What drawn me to this work is probably because of my own history of leaving my home Hong Kong, and studying and living in UK, and now being back, everything has changed. And that sense of loss is permanent, unlike nostalgia which may just be temporary.
Quoting from Shi Yangkun,
“People are eager to go back home because they feel safe and comfortable with familiar attachments. From the view of nostalgia, the loss of attachment is temporary, because a person believe that they can go home sooner or later. The memory of these attachments could provide comfort. However, in the case of solastalgia, I would argue, the loss of attachment is permanent, which means even though they are standing in the original place they cannot find these attachments any more.”
The photographs speak to me because I totally understand that feeling and I can really resonate with the visual images. In his work, he questions not only the impact of the industrialisation but also reflects his uncertainties under a particular environment.
© Shi Yangkun, from the series ‘Solastalgia, 2016- ; Source @ Shi Yangkun
Interview with SCMP: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2091520/photographer-misses-his-home-especially-when-hes-there