Ramona Jingru Wang

Buy a copy
In this newspaper project, I photograph professional Asian models intimately with their home and family members, in contrast to their coexisting high production photographic identity that they have when they are working in a commercial setting. This photo series initially came from my curiosity and the urge for connection to my subject. 2 years ago I accidentally started to work as a fashion and commercial model in New York. I gratefully got to meet many other Asian models working on set. The experience of being a model changed my relationship with photography. It gave me another perspective to the idea of photography, not only as a medium of art, but more so as an act that creates social connections and public influences, which affects one’s understanding of their self-image and of other groups’. Among the fun times on set, there are inevitably uneasy feelings of being photographed as a human in general, but especially as an Asian one in the western world. It is the strange, objectifying feeling when a photo of me is taken for commercial purposes, and the even stranger feeling of being one of the only tokenized Asians in those photos that make me want to know more about my fellow model friends, and to create an alternative photographic presence that is in contrast to their commercial one. Not simply creating an overly sentimental piece about “Asian culture” or “Asian Identity”,  I want to experience the connective and ritualistic aspects of photography during, and after a photograph is created.

Printing these intimate family portraits on newsprint paper that has a conventionally commercial connotation, I want to question the tokenizing practice of having poc models in commercial campaigns, and the overly identitarian reading on poc artist's work. What do we see when we see asian models in photographs that resemble a family snapshot? and what makes an artwork political? Does the appearance of Asian bodies in an image make it inherently political? The materiality of photographs matters, as it affects how we interpret the images. Newsprint paper is mostly used for commercial or public purposes in mass media, and I wanted the materiality of the paper to echo the commercial photographic presence of my subjects being fashion models. I wanted to trick the viewers into confusion when they look at photographs that blurs the boundary between private family snapshots and commercial fashion photography. I am interested in the dissonance between the process and the outcome, such as the difference of how an image is made and how it is presented and read in the end as an object.