Jung und sinnlich, provokant und verletzlich, eigensinnig und opportun — so vielseitig kommen die beeindruckenden Portraits einer neuen Generation junger, selbstbewusster Chinesinnen daher, die in einer von gesellschaftlichen Auflagen gezeichneten Volkswirtschaft den Mut haben, Wege jenseits der konventionellen Richtlinien zu gehen. Hinter der bewegenden Ausstellung “GIRLS”, die noch bis zum 5. Juni Werte wie Emanzipation und Gleichberechtigung ins Bild bannt, steht die junge Fotografin Luo Yang. Anmutig begrüßt sie uns in den vom Boden bis zur Decke grünen Räumlichkeiten der MO Industries Galerie in Berlin, die auf den ersten Blick gewöhnungsbedürftig scheinen, den Bildern aber zugute kommen. Schnell wird klar, wie sie für ihre teils provokativen Arbeiten das Vertrauen junger Frauen gewinnt — in einem Land, in dem “zur Schau gestellte” Weiblichkeit noch immer mit Zurückhaltung und Scham behaftet ist. Kein Wunder, findet ihr ebenfalls politischer Kollege und Landsmann Ai Weiwei, der mittlerweile zu den international bedeutendsten Künstlern der Gegenwart zählt, nur lobende Worte für das progressive Werk der heute in Shanghai lebenden Fotografin. Stylemag Autorin Stephie hat das junge Talent getroffen und ihr ein paar Fragen gestellt:
Stylemag: You started 2007 with the series “GIRLS”, for which you portrait young women from China. How did you come up with that idea?
Luo Yang: At the very beginning I started to take photos of friends or random people around me, without planning to make this a series. Slowly, I got to the point though that I felt a specific connection to that women as they were in the same age as me. Therefore, I could understand the feelings they had. Later I realized I want to keep doing this, so the women can express their feelings through the images.
Was that also the intention for exhibiting and sharing the images with the world?
I think “Girls” is a good window for the world to perceive a different impression if not even an impression at all about China and Chinese women.
It’s been nine years since you started. What kind of changes did you realize in being-a-woman and the female role in China since?
I can very clearly see changes at my models. At the beginning the women were not very open for being a model and posing in front of a camera. Now they are, they are more brave, so I am able to find more individual people. This has been difficult before.
Where do you find the women, where are they from?
Most of them are friends or friends of friends. But I also contact women I find interesting, mostly those who already have a presence in the internet or I am getting e-mails from total strangers who would like to be involved in the series.
How does the creative process look like? How is the environment you portrait them in chosen?
With most of them I just stay at home, so I can capture their natural surroundings. Or we choose places where they often go and feel comfortable at. Sometimes I also just randomly walk around with them and then choose an environment that has a connection to their appearance and feeling we want to portrait.
You already mentioned that you started to make this a frequent project after you felt a connection, empathizing with the girls feelings and fears. What kind of things do young women in China struggle with?
As all the girls were very young when I started shooting them, just as me, they still wanted to explore the world, but the reality is very different. The young people have very free minds and want to see the world. But there is a lot of pressure from society and parents to fit into stigmatized roles, you cannot easily break out from.
How was the series perceived when you first showed it in China and how is it now? Are there differences you noted?
The first time I exhibited the work, people were not as shocked as expected and lots of them even liked it. I think that’s because all people have their desire deep inside their hearts and these kind of picture bring them out, they are an exit to release these kind of desires and pressures.
It seems, those desires are a global thing, as the series has been well received in the Western world too. Do you also consider doing this in other countries or is this a project you will always exclusively focus on China for?
For now I will stick to only shooting chinese women as they have the same cultural background as me and live in the same environment, it’s much easier to understand them and find access. So it’s also easier for me to express myself. One day I might do that though, I think it would be very interesting to discover new cultures.
Vielen Dank Luo Yang für Deine Zeit und das nette Gespräch!
Die Ausstellung “Girls” im MO Industries in der Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 16 in Berlin ist noch bis zum 05.06.2016 zu sehen. In unserer Galerie gibt es einen ersten Einblick:
Foto Credits: Stephanie Johne
Header: Stephanie Johne/ PR