Rising photog Luo Yang on shooting China’s girls
HK Magazine: When did you first begin photographing women, and what was it initially that inspired you to do so?
Luo Yang: I started photographing in 2007 out of the desire to express the real me and how I felt about the world around me. Much of this was related to the confusion of puberty, of being young and inexperienced. But when I saw the girls around me sharing the same emotions and confusions about life, I realized that I needed to record our lives.
HK: How have your impressions of Chinese women changed since then?
LY: From 2007 to 2016, I got to know girls who were born in the 80s to the 90s. At the beginning, I noticed there weren’t too many girls like these; girls who were independent, open and free to be themselves. Now they are becoming a majority.
This makes me believe that there’s an emerging trend among young girls to express themselves. It gives me a lot of confidence. Taking photos of these girls is an encouraging process for all of us.
HK: What is the most glaring stereotype you want to dispel about Chinese women through your work?
LY: It’s hard to say that I’m dispelling anything. I’m just trying to do the best I can to show the reality that I see, to comfort and encourage the girls I’m photographing. Of course, I hope that after seeing my work, people can be persuaded to see women in a different way and give them more freedom and space beyond the stereotypes about women in Chinese society. HK: Ai Weiwei has named you one of the rising stars of Chinese photography. What does that mean to you?
LY: That was a very encouraging kind of recognition, especially because the feelings I’m trying to express come from real life. I guess this is also why my work touches people: As women, we all share the same sentiments and emotions.
HK: Who are other female artists inspiring you today?
LY: There are many female artists I like, namely Sophie Calle, Rineke Dijkstra and Marina Abramović.
HK: You’ve said that women will always be your main subject. Do you have a vision for your next project?
LY: I think women will still be my main subjects, but the scope will be wider, including more ages, locations and nations. And I’m working on video art, too; I’d like to include some video works in my next exhibition. See Luo Yang’s “Girls” during a special pop-up exhibit through Sep 26 at the Cat Street Gallery (50 Tung St., Sheung Wan), or at the Asia Contemporary Art Show this weekend (Conrad Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty).
One of the fastest-rising photographers to come out of China, Luo Yang has traveled the world exhibiting her images of young Chinese women in a photo-series she calls, simply, “Girls.” She talks to Jessica Wei about her inspirations and being singled out by Ai Weiwei.