Documenting our everyday lives and posting about them on social media is something that comes as natural as breathing or drinking water to many of us. For the youth around the world, be it China, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, UK, Italy or Canada, having profiles on Instagram, TikTok, WeChat or Weibo help us connect with our peers, express ourselves and see what’s going on in other people’s lives. But it hasn’t always been like this. For fifty years, in China, photography was a tool used by the government to spread political propaganda, and only party members were allowed to own a camera.
But growing up in an increasingly interconnected world where taboos and censorship are weaker, and where every smartphone has a high-resolution camera, a new generation of Chinese photographers is finding its way to work freely and deal with topics such as gender expression, partying, nudity, sexuality and friendship, thus defying strict, restrictive social conventions that have oppressed many before.
Artists like the late Ren Hang, John Yuyi, Li Hui, Lao Xie Xie, Ka Xiaoxi, YuYang Liu and Su Yang, whose works currently hang at 193 Gallery, are paving the way for future generations, who don’t believe in creative restrictions or limitations.