'GIRLS': Photographer Luo Yang's intimate portraits redefine modern girlhood in China
A Fine Arts and Graphic Design graduate of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in her hometown of Shenyang, Luo Yang began taking photographs of her girl friends in 2008 to capture their mutual feelings of loneliness and disillusionment. The resulting images evoke the sensuality of Nobuyoshi Araki's oeurve and Corrine Day's unfiltred portraiture. It was this fascinating frisson that caught the attention of artist Ai Wei Wei, who included Yang in his rudely titled 'F**K OFF 2' exhibition held at the Groninger Museum, Netherlands in 2013.
Intimate, raw and private —Yang's 'GIRLS' series continues to grow a decade on, not just in numbers but in its diversity of faces. The subjects have moved beyond her immediate circle of friends to include acquintances, girls she has met online and whoever she deems interesting for her lens, but the intention remains the same; to challenge traditional notions of feminine identity in her country.
Luo doesn't believe in shooting a girl once too: a friend who gets her head shaved by her male partner is photgraphed again years later when she is heavily pregnant. This documentary-style vision extends to the environments she shoots in as well: in front of a fresh meat stall in a wet market, on the rooftop of a commercial building and an open road in the countryside.
While the free-spirited girls in her photographs do not represent the majority of women, their independence might be reflective of the way things are moving forward for most women in China as the nation grapples with its own #MeToo movement.
For the first time, a 10-year retrospective exhibition of the 'GIRLS' series will take place in Bangkok this December. Co-curated by Chomwan Weeraworawit and RDX Offsite, it is the first of a solo exhibition of a multi-city show. A photo installation by RDX Offsite will launch the project on 9 December, where the collective will experiment with creative staging and showcase larger prints in a spacious warehouse. Yang will partake in an artist talk and press conference on 12 December where she will speak about her work and creative processes.
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