Artist's Statement

Guanyu Xu

Resident Aliens is a project examining citizenship. Through photographing the layered images of immigrants’ interior spaces, belongings, personal photo archives, and pictures of places they captured in this world, the project blurs the boundaries between the familiar and foreignness, private and public, belonging and alienation.

For many immigrants, the home could never be private and secure. In "Resident Aliens," I find participants who hold different visa statuses in the United States. Upon invitation, I photograph their homes and personal belongings, and then print these images out in addition to my subjects’ personal photo archives. These prints are installed back into their space as temporary installations and additionally documented as photographs.

My performative actions with participants is not only an integral social practice in representing their complex identities and histories, but it’s also a negotiation of power and assumed stereotypes. As a “foreigner,” I transform their temporary states of being into installations and preserve the constructions as photographs. The project presents immigrants’ intimately nuanced experiences within their homes and in the US at large. These convergences of spaces and times invite the viewer to enter into spaces of fluidity rather than fixed perspectives. They mobilize the viewer’s gaze, imagination, and care, defying strict definition.

Since the beginning of 2020, I have started working on this project in Chicago. To create various representations of immigrant’s legal status, I want to expand the geography of my project to share more perspectives. With the funding support, I want to conduct the project in New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles. These cities have large immigrant communities and are geopolitically different from one another. My goal is to produce at least forty images.

Through collaboration and conversation, "Resident Aliens" will present the complicated condition immigrants experience in the U.S. I want to ask: In this interconnected world, how do we redefine citizenship and the legality of a person?