Photo series by Luo Yang

Text by Roxanne Goldberg
Photos courtesy of MCO-Industries

A young Chinese woman looks solemnly at the viewer, her chin cupped between scarred hands. Five years prior, the then sixteen-year-old Zhou Yan was doused with gasoline and set ablaze. Despite the vermillion blisters that line her arms, face, legs, and chest, Zhou does not appear a victim in the portraits taken by Lou Yang. She is serene, yet striking, sensitive, yet strong.
Luo’s particular talent for capturing the complexity of an individual’s inner world is what makes the 32-year-old one of the most compelling photographers of her generation. Based in Beijing and Shanghai, Luo is most well-known for her ongoing portrait series GIRLS, parts of which have been exhibited extensively throughout China and Europe.
GIRLS has been lauded for its ability to submerge viewers into the depths of Chinese subculture. But what makes Luo’s photographs stand out from the recent wave of photography attempting to defy long-believed and largely erroneous Western conceptions of Chinese women as submissive and traditional, is Luo’s eschewal of voyeurism in favor of empathetic camaraderie.

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