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The World is Yours (But Also Ours)

In O Zhang’s most recent series The World is Yours (But Also Ours) her images depict Chinese youth wearing American-style tee-shirts featuring “Chinglish” text and appended with slogans in bold graphic Chinese; some taken from the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the writings of Mao Zedong while others are written by Zhang herself. The images are formatted after the traditional Maoist style propaganda posters where an image is bordered at the bottom with a white band with red text. In doing so the series visually captures conflicts in modern day Chinese culture, such as communist legacy vs. recent rapid economic development and traditional culture vs. western popular culture, thus encapsulating the identity crisis facing Chinese youth and modern China.

In the series titled Horizon Zhang has traveled to a remote village in central China to make photographic portraits of the young girls in the village. The resulting images, printed larger than life size, were combined to make a large installation of three rows; in the top row the girls squat on the hill looking down to the viewers; in the middle row the girls’ eyes are at your eye level; in the bottom row the girls are placed in a field of grass and look up to the viewers. In the remote countryside the innocent female child is in a position of powerlessness, though here they are formed into a collective body and from it their collective naïve gaze questions the outside world with a clear magnitude and power of its own. 

My inspiration is from the concept of “Rebellion is the rule”, the slogan from Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966 -1976). I try to produce a series of images that question current assumptions about the primacy of western power in my own understanding.
– O Zhang

Daddy & I

In her series titled Daddy & I Zhang composes portraits of American men with their adopted Chinese daughters. The images portray the girls with their loving parent often within a thick  overgrowth of flora; creating places that seem both idyllic and other-worldly in their vibrant color. The symbolism of these arrangements begins to conjure a multitude of readings; for some the relationship of father and daughter may not at first even seem apparent… for others perhaps “A youthful and growing China beside an aging America”, though for Zhang the dynamic is much more deep-rooted through an understanding of the social and economic forces that have made these images possible.