Someone once asked me
Are you happy?
I giggled twice
But what I really wanted to say was
It is none of your business
From nineteenth-century readily available image making to the current state of self documentation, portraiture has dominated the medium of photography. Portraiture has always enabled an ability to build stories, construct performers, protagonists, while also offering viewers the opportunity to investigate the ways we shape our own ideas regarding identity. Olympia and C’mon Everybody are proud to present Veil, a solo exhibition of Yao Ruilin’s recent photographs.
Veil is an accumulation of childhood keepsakes, with a deep affection for home and heritage. Our worlds are changing in this hyper-moving era (whether we are mobile or static). These images document Ruilin’s internal experience transitioning between China (Chengdu, Shangha), and the US (San Francisco, New York). Part of Ruilin’s personal nomadic history has caused feelings of isolation and outsider-mentality. Emotions that are universal, but hyperized depending on circumstances. By covering up different parts of herself and her subjects’ bodies, Ruilin reveals the personal contentions Chinese women experience.
Using China’s city centers and historical landmarks as backdrops make the work function in a context that isn’t free or open. These scenes reveal something about not only Ruilin, but also the generation she comes from. There is a universal feelings of suppression that all Chinese citizens inhibit. Love is something Ruilin was taught to conceal. Sex is taboo. Pornographic images have been banned in the People’s Republic of China since 1949, but definitions are kept purposefully vague.Censorship, romance, individuality, and identity are unveiled through Yao's use of red fabric. Veiling becomes revealing.