Xuanru Wang



The project focuses on China’s one-child policy, presenting the unspeakable trauma left in Chinese families and the new ethical dilemmas it has created. Through experimental images and archival data, I explored how China’s family planning policy has transformed China’s family structure over the past two decades and how children raised in this kind of family perceive the right to life and intimate relationships.

Drawing from my private experience, I chose the specific experience of my family as the target to present the abortion and the second-child trend triggered by the family planning policy. My mother experienced multiple abortions due to the one-child policy, and she gave birth legally again to a second child after the policy abolition. This particular family, controlled by China’s family planning policy, has its hidden scars, deprived lives and long-lost souls. It is also facing a division after breaking the long-term family structure, a family of three. The unique intergenerational relationship implies alienated power structures and intimacy patterns.

China’s one-child policy has attracted interest from academia. However, research on the policy is mainly at the political and economic levels. Most research on related trauma focuses on the physical loss of women who have experienced abortion and the socialized mental health of the only child. Little attention has been paid to the unspeakable grief, imperceptible absence and deprivation of the unborn family members.

My personal family history is a sample of the project. The historical materials, including family albums, diaries, and vouchers, were organized, integrated and re-edited to serve the work. I also added my family’s narratives, my personal feelings and related videos to specify the details. The final presentation combined all the above materials, aiming to be a poetic, stream-of-consciousness, surreal non-fiction narrative.

Xuanru Wang | Film
Exhibition View
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