Only MAMA Knows #1, 2017

ZHIYUAN YANG

Artist Statement

I am a visual artist from Beijing, China who makes work to challenge and construct alternatives to normative definitions of gender, ethnicity, and social character through photography, video and performance. I use strategies that encompass masquerade, role playing and humor. The locations in which I work include the studio, art gallery, domestic and the public sphere. These locations are frequently transformed to reflect shifts and changes that subjects at the center of my investigation undergo.

A Family of Three explores the complex relationship between governmental legislation and family dynamics. The First Marriage Law (1950) and The Family Planning Policy (1979) passed in the People’s Republic of China, gradually established a new structure for the Chinese nuclear family: mother, father and daughter/son. The one child policy intended to curb the growth in China’s population had unintended consequences that produced adverse social consequences.

A Family of Three scrutinizes how China’s patriarchal tradition which combined with an emerging feminist politics, produced these issues within the context of my family: an unsuccessful heterosexual marriage, a dynamic not unique to my family.
A Family of Three is an auto-ethnography. By investigating my family within the field of our home, the work chronicles the effects of heteronormative ideas drawn from the fantasy of the happy Chinese family in contemporary social imagination. What is revealed is the impact of these constructed mythologies on individuals who are shaped and entangled with other lives.

My home is my refuge and harbor, but I am conscious of its fragility as an institution.

www.zhiyuanyang.com