As a non-profit cultural center, YYO Foundation takes an active part in supporting art exchanges among higher educational institutions and academic bodies both in China and internationally, aiming to discover emerging young visual creators in fashion, arts and design and provide them with a platform for sharing.
Every year, as our creative partner, the YYO Foundation scouts creative visual talents from the fashion photography community and invites them to join discussion on a specific social topic, which reflects the contemporary way of living and its impact over contemporary visual art. The theme for the sixth edition of PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai was ‘Androgyny: From Female Point of View’. YYO Foundation presented the works of ten female artists Huang Chutong, Yang Yanyuan, Hu Weishan, Li Anqi, Bi Jiaqi, Zoe Yao, Currisa Cheng, Vai Vai Von, Yang Mu and Li Xinyu. PHOTOFAIRS had the exciting opportunity to speak with some of the talent involved in this impressive on-site exhibition. Join us as we explore the artists opinions and creative approach towards the concept of an ambiguous sexual identity...
Yang Yanyuan: In my photography, I never intentionally define my object as male or female. I just treat them as my objects. When I see my object, it becomes a habit to see them as a shape, a colour, or a material. I’m most attracted to their visible human qualities, such as their round face or the shape of their nose, which I won’t photoshop into the ‘societal ideal’.
WeiShan Hu: I don’t think androgyny has to be connected with visible gender. I really detest the cliché definition of androgyny as being a ‘tomboy’ or a ‘girlish boy’. I think it is more a feeling, or a subtle psychological quality. It can be found in ordinary people. So I see a little bit of conflict in the concept. It doesn’t just refer to a group of people, but is present in everyone.
AnQi Li: For me, there is no gender. We don’t have to define people as male or female, because there may be something in between that is genderless. Maybe it is personality. We don’t have to limit ourselves with gender.
I took the photos with a friend in Japan. One of the models that we hired was Japanese. The theme that I was interested in was angel and devil. The Japanese model was the angel and the other girl was the devil. This was made evident by their makeup and clothes. The angel was in pure white, with red eye shadows. Even though she was an angel, she still harboured hatred and the desire to revenge. The devil was in pure black, with many black shapes used in the makeup.
JiaQi Bi: I think women should think more about what they want, not what they should do, or what men would think when making choices. They should know what they can get out of every choice and what they like to have.
Zoe Yao: Androgyny reminds me of the letter B in LGBTQ. It is a process of self-exploration and self-understanding. Many people realize all of a sudden that there are two selves sharing their body, but some people may never discover the other self. This is entirely up to the environment you live in, the people and things you encounter, the education you receive and your own values. I’ve expressed this idea in my selected artworks. Through the medium of water, you may discover another you, which may not be present all the time, but under certain circumstances, through a certain medium, the other you will emerge.
Curissa Cheng: The theme is a bit marginalized to me. At first, I thought this word was created to be independent of the concept of men and women, because of the male-female dichotomy, which is the result of socialization. But now, my interpretation, which I think makes more sense, is that it refers to a symbiotic state where there is both male and female to some extent. It is a fluid and dynamic state, similar to the fluidity of gender.
Vaivai Von: As the creator, I want to explore the traditional gender boundary and steer clear of monotonous gender perception. To eliminate the expression of gender is to deviate from the mandatory logic of male-female dichotomy in the traditional sense. The expression of androgyny is therefore more universal. I’m hoping to find a middle ground between the two genders and to discover a new form of ‘sexiness’ while exploring male and female qualities.