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Visual Communication (MA)

Yilian Li 李依莲

Yilian Li is a life experiencer/visual experimenter currently studying for an MA in Visual Communication (Experimental Communication) at the Royal College of Art after completing a BA in Lighting Design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

She is passionate about finding and experiencing the joys of life and exploring the power of physical agency and expression free from overthinking. Her creative practice includes experimental short videos, writing, installations, multimedia art, and performance.

Now she is about to become a mother.

A picture of Yilian as a child with his mother.

Pregnancy is an event that falls into life, and the process of conception is an experience of welcoming my broken and reconstructed self. After three months of living with intense discomfort(morning sickness, rapid weight loss, frail body, etc.), the definition of 'mum' became blurred and feared to me.

It seems to symbolize unconditional self-sacrifice, but if this event brings only pain, what is the reason that sustains mothers to have children?

I began to look back at my relationship with my mother when I stood at this tipping point - about to become a mother but still a daughter.

Nine photographs of Polaroid documenting Yilian's beginning of pregnancy. (Weight loss, bin full of vomiting paper, etc.).

I started to try to record my feelings during pregnancy, and they are preproduction notes for the project. The Polaroid is like a diary, following the life changes that come with pregnancy.

My project is a film documenting my daily life with my mum. As I was pregnant and had a severe pre-pregnancy reaction, my mum came from China to where I live now to keep me company. I spent most of my time with my mum in silence, but I felt stable and empowered when I had her. She was upbeat, always smiling, dancing at home, and gave me a lot of positivity. She was always busy cooking and helping me with baths, and my mum made me feel like a child when she looked after me. But London was new to her; she didn't speak English, so when she went out, she was extremely curious about everything, sharing life here with her friends and constantly taking photos everywhere with her phone as if she were a child again. I recorded the contrasts and cut them together.

We were both about to move on to a new identity when we through this time together, and it was a time that made me realize what The Art of Loving means when it says, "I need you because I love you." [1] Mum didn't tell me how to be a mum, she just made me realize that she loved me, and I loved her back.

I hope I can share with you the moments that helped me become a mother through this short film:)

[1] Fromm, Erich. The art of loving: The centennial edition. A&C Black, 2000.