Candid photographs of empowered femininity in contemporary China
“By shooting girls I understand their life better and it makes my own world bigger and wider. We might have different values and worldviews, but what we have in common are a fragility and braveness inside of us. We face the world with our sincerity.” — Luo Yang.
Luo Yang, born 1984 in Liaoning Province in China’s northeast, is a freelance photographer living and working in Beijing and Shanghai.
She was once described as one of the “rising stars of Chinese photography” by the acclaimed Ai Weiwei and Yang quickly gained international recognition for her work. In 2007 she began work on her series GIRLS, a collection of portraits that were designed to depict an emerging Chinese subculture insisting not to be pigeonholed into preset stereotypes.
The project is deeply personal as Yang found subjects that share the same emotions and beliefs that she herself holds so dearly, “I can’t say that they represent a whole new generation of women in China,” she said in an interview with Featureshoot before adding: “But they are absolutely a group of women who represent independence and freedom”.
Describing the project on the official accompanying exhibit text, it explains that the images depict “bad-assed and self-aware, yet insecure, vulnerable and torn, with a supreme sense of cool. Although different, they share the same ambivalent emotions, confusions and concerns.”
“I feel they are braver than I am; they are doing things that I don’t have the courage to do. We might have different values and worldviews, but what we [the girls and I] have in common are a fragility and braveness inside of us; we face the world with our sincerity,” she continued. “Shooting their life is like shooting my own. Only I feel I perceive the world as bigger.”
It took ten years for Yang to finally get around to compiling the images she was truly happy with, the images that she felt represented not only her beliefs and her creative style but that of thousands of young women in China that she shared that vision with.
GIRLS (2007-2017) was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and here is a selection of our favourite images via Feature Shoot: