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Photography (MA)

张莹莹 Yingying Zhang

Yingying Zhang was born in China in 1999.

Her work focuses on self-exploration as a starting point and incorporates multiple perspectives on the body, gender, power, and technology.

Her work has been exhibited in Shanghai, London and Switzerland.

She is growing up and seeing herself…

Yingying Zhang

My works are some pieces of unusual selfies.

I grew up in an environment that insisted on conforming to the expectations of society. During my university years, however, my views and beliefs underwent a major shift. The influence of Covid-19 and exposure to feminist ideas played a key role in this change. This prompted me to embark on a profound exploration of my own identity. I was obsessed with images and adept at using photography as a way of presenting my inner thoughts.

In this work, starting from self-examination, I attempt to explore the power relations manifested in the sense of submission that exists in me and the everyday realm that cultivated it. From the perspective of a woman who is awakening, I see this work as a form of exploration as well as resistance.

When I was growing up, obedient and understanding were always my labels.

I was like a robot doing what others thought was the right to do.

However, who I am and who I really want to be. I don’t know…

I lost myself and I accepted the rules and regulations imposed on me.

I try to build a bridge with myself through observation and memory

and photographs from my childhood.

childhood photo
The photo is when I was learning to walk. There was a wall with grid lines behind me, and it also was a reference point to see if I was making progress in my walk.
childhood photo
I was in a very symmetrical pose, surrounded by fake leaves. I followed the instructions and posed with my hands on my hat. They told me it was lovely.
childhood photo
It is a picture of me leaning against a pillar. My younger sister and I were asked to compare the height standing next to the pillar. She was as tall as me. I was taught that I should be taller as an elder sister.
childhood photo
The photo is when I went to Beijing, I was told In front of an office building that the only way to have a decent job in the future was to study hard.

I realized the demands and constraints that lurk in everyday life.

Countless things that I didn’t see as a problem were part of what caused me to be submissive.

I extracted the background elements from the photos

And used them as inspiration for my shooting.

Process of the work
a wall with grid lines—— garage doors with grid lines
Process of the work
fake leaves—— artificially planted and manipulated plants
Process of the work
pillars—— pillars
Process of the work
office building——office building

After some pain and constant self-discovery,

I started to go from being good and understanding to being rebellious and disobedient. 

At the same time

I decided to turn the lens on myself. 

I made myself into an intangible shape, a mysterious, unstable, threatening thing

and diffused through space with a free dynamic that is difficult to conceal,

seemingly soft but unstoppable.

process of the work
process of the work
Release, 2023, London
Release, 2023, London
Release, 2023, London
Release, 2023, London

It's an unusual way of taking a selfie, blurring boundaries and decentralizing.

From the perspective of a woman who is awakening,

I see this work as a form of exploration as well as resistance.

It is an expression of visual resistance.