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A Trip Without Purpose

Artist Blog by Zexuan Zeng

In the summer of 2023, I traveled to eastern Germany with my friend, Ayham, a street photographer from Syria who is also studying in Germany. For one thing, we had been hoping to complete a trip together, because we both focused on documentary-based photography, but not in the same approach. Secondly, given our backgrounds, a glimpse of the East was an attractive subject. Sadly I can only show some of my photos here but Ayham's amazing street scenes, it means to be combined to generate meaning, but now it's in pieces.

I understand that the "ruins" of East Germany may be a cliché, but I was naturally drawn to them, probably because I seemed to have lost my strength to maneuver through conversations with others. After the trip, I continued traveling in Italy and China and never processed the photos. An opportunity to publish them in a magazine earlier this year led me to revisit and edit them.

I spent a lot of time taking photos with a tripod in a dark environment, and the 6x7" format allowed me to discover a lot of details that I had overlooked at the time. At the same time, all the photographs conveyed to me a feeling of being trapped. Maybe it came from my feelings at the time and blended into conversations with the locals, but in any case, these were not what I had foreseen. “A gloomy phantasmagoria after the party”, if I were to summarize them in one sentence. We end up naming this sequence "Haven’t we danced here before".