“Words from Dad” provides an experimental exploration of my Dutch-Chinese heritage as it retells the story of my grandfather, whom I never met. Using pictures from my personal family albums, I trace back my mixed roots and my grandfather’s life stories, as told by my dad, in his own words.

The manufacturing and application of photo weaving, are used metaphorically to depict the fragmentation of my family memory. Furthermore, it portrays my grandfather’s experience of having to acculturate to a new (Western) culture, and the multicultural upbringing he gave my dad.

Reworking the family portraits, I manually cut and stitch multiple photographs together – intersecting cultures, identities, time periods and lived experiences. With each fold, the resulting image becomes more abstracted – like the stories that gradually become further removed from the original, each time they are retold and passed on from one generation to the next. I explore photo embroidery through the ancient Chinese belief in the invisible “Red String of Fate,” which encapsulates a universal story of love and destiny.

Bio: In 2023, Laura Chen was shortlisted for the PhMuseum Women Photographers Grant, Revela’t Festival and the OD Photo Prize. In 2022 she was nominated as Foam Talent and was a winner of the LensCulture Summer Open Award and the Rabo Photographic Portrait Talent Prize by the Dutch National Portrait Gallery.

She has exhibited internationally at Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation (DE), Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam (NL), Photo London (UK), Christie’s London (UK), Depot in Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (NL), Westergas Amsterdam (NL).