Zhidong Zhang (b. Hunan, 1996) is a photographer based in Boston, MA. Investigated in how to create a relationship between photographer, subject, and spectator, his work is situated within ongoing questions about identity, representation, the role of imagery in contemporary culture, and how visual manifestations of desire codify sexual identities and practices. He is currently a graduate student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and is expecting to graduate this May.
Engaged in how and for whom homosexuality is made visible, my project Natural Impersonation is a set of photographs that tamper with the construction of sexuality and identity in relation to the unyielding repression of homosexuality in China. Driven by my own suppressed upbringing as the only gay child in a conservative Chinese family, I construct scenes of desire, trauma, humor, defiance, and violence through the exploration of Asian bodies and cultural language. Casting my friends and family members in an unstable manner, I allow perverse moments to coalesce into performances which are deeply rooted in the specificity of my experience as a “closeted” gay man. These constructed images challenge received notions of normality and identification, but also imbue queer invisibility with agency and undeniable power within which a formation of sexuality is engendered.
To view more of Zhidong Zhang’s work please visit his website.