The World is Yours (But Also Ours) 

A great deal has changed in China since Mao’s regime. During that time art served only as a means of depicting the glory of communism. China is now developing more rapidly than ever before and in every different way with what could be seen as its second “Great Leap Forward”. In its rush to catch up with the so-called “international standard” and to eventually lead the international community with its arrival as a world power in the 21st century it risks making many mistakes.

This series of photographs was taken in China during the two months preceding the Olympic Games. At that time there was a heightened sense of national pride as well as a heightened level of tension rooted in the hope that the world might be impressed by China’s ability to successfully deliver a spectacle never before seen and that this would in some way announce its arrival on the world stage, dispelling its own sense of humiliation in the theater of international scrutiny.

In this series I combine images with graphic text.  The text follows the form used in Cultural Revolution-era propaganda posters: an image bordered with a slogan in bold text below it. The texts that I chose come from a variety of sources. Most are derived from contemporary advertising and signage as well as from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. The images depict Chinese youth in front of various significant facades wearing T-shirts with phrases in what is often called "Chinglish" –Chinese that has either been poorly translated into English or an emerging new form of modified English that can result in seemingly nonsensical expressions, but that also serves as a unique record of China’s current cultural convergence and transformation. Together these basic visual and textual elements combine, reinforcing or subverting each other to suggest various political, economic or cultural meanings, often to comic effect.

Having divided my time equally in recent years between the East and the West, my own experience of my home country is often one of profound ambivalence. These photographs explore that ambivalence by exploiting the collision of my influences and in doing so, the series visually captures the economic and political conflicts in modern day Chinese culture, among them, the identity crisis facing Chinese youth.