Lantian Xie’s work evolves from careful observation of situations, stories and everyday vernacular that are local to the United Arab Emirates as well as similar places of transience. These places appear as amalgamations of ‘elsewheres’ but nevertheless possess a specificity all their own. Migrant workers make up the majority of the resident population in the UAE, with many of the domestic live-in maids coming from the Philippines.
For his SB14 project, Xie explores notions of place through the offerings of a second-hand bookshop in the Satwa neighborhood of Dubai. He is curious about the people who bring and buy these books, the temporary condition of their stay, the extra-national labour markets where they are employed and the act of leaving their possessions behind. Romance Section (2016) is a collection of the romance books at the second-hand bookstore. These books, purchased wholesale, tell stories of encounters, intrigues, chances, intoxicants and ghosts. As few of these titles see primary market distribution, much of this printed material has found its way to Dubai with people travelling in and out of the city.