the next chapter in luo yang's photographic study of femininity
As part of her highly-acclaimed ongoing documentary series, ‘Girls’, Chinese photographer Luo Yang discusses the new imagery shot in Thailand.
Photography Luo Yang
Luo Yang’s expansive study of womanhood, GIRLS, is a photographic project of immense depth. What began a few years ago as a way for Luo to record her own confusions and feelings of alienation growing up in China has developed into one of the most thought-provoking and visually stunning portraits of gender, sexuality and identity undertaken by a photographer this century. “It started with the idea of feeling lost during adolescence,” Luo explained to us back in January. “But later I realised that people around me share such similar stories and feelings, which are all very precious moments to me, and thus I started to record them as well. It’s a very naturally developed series, a continuous record of my own growth and people around me.”
Raw and intimate are two words we’re all guilty of ascribing far too often to photography of uncensored nudity, without styling or make-up, but in Luo’s case nothing could better describe her work. The closeness of the subject and the photographer can always be felt, “I have more strangers as subjects than friends and family,” she explained. “But those strangers and I are in a certain way connected. We share the same interests, after the shoot we usually become friends.”
Off the back of a series of exhibitions across the world earlier this year, Luo has now been exploring the themes in GIRLS outside of China. “I’ve always wanted to meet girls from other countries and expand my series to Asia,” Luo told us earlier this week. “This [exhibition in Thailand] has given me a chance to realise how similar girls from Thailand are, despite our difference of nationalities and cultural background. They’re fun, free and independent. They strike me as a group of young people who, very much like the Chinese young people I met, are very active in pursuing their dreams. And are very beautiful.” Here Luo discusses what drew her to the subjects she shot in Thailand.
Mtttry, a local tattoo artist in Bangkok that does stick and poke tattoos
“When I talked to Mtttry before the shoot, I found that under her quiet and shy appearance, there was a very strong power hidden inside. You can see that from these photos taken of her on the rooftop... her toughness and power is present.”
Kwanta Choonhavan, the daughter of a diplomat who says breaks free from the restraints of her family through fashion and modelling
“During the preparation for this shoot, what impressed me the most about Kwanta was not her cool attitude, but her connection to her boyfriend, so I decided to put them together in a shoot. It worked out very well. They have similar styles, and they obviously are very comfortable and relaxed with each other. You can see mutual respect and admiration in this relationship. I put them in different environments: on rooftops and down side streets… But you can see this connection shines whether they are in a private or a public space.”
Nalin Satearrujikanon, a model and photographer in from a small western Thailand town, Kanchanaburi, based in Bangkok
“Nalin really impressed me with the way she sees herself, and you can clearly see that from the photos. No matter where she is, she dresses the way she loves and always feels good about it. She makes her beauty seen to the whole world and she definitely doesn’t fear how other people see her. She’s like a bright flower in bloom and shines even in the darkest of nights.”
Photography Luo Yang
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.