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Photography (MA)

Charlotte Yao

Charlotte Yao is a Chinese Canadian artist now residing in London. Working both in art and curation, her practice focuses on decentration and identity politics, presenting marginalised perspectives of female, migrant, and even post-human aspects. She adopts the strategy of using minoritarian languages to stresses the power of the difference-in-itself in many of her works.

With an academic background in both photography and philosophy, Charlotte’s practices often examine the transmission and cultural constitution of the image while discussing issues. Her work often takes the form of photography, installation, or moving image, expanding the boundary of photography.


Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Photography (MA)

I try to stress the power of the difference-in-itself in my practice, to accept my difference as what it is rather than to assimilate myself with whatever it should be. I used a lot of appropriation of existing images and texts to patch together a space of my own. It is a comfortable space for me to express those differences, but I don’t want it to be too comfortable for the audience. I want to create works that are accessible, but not interpretable. By doing so I embedded a series of minor languages in my works, through strategies such as using the body as a site for work, adopting bilingual strategies, or layering information until it becomes difficult to read.

In my most recent work Norwegian Forest (2021), I used similar strategies to juxtapose appropriations of Norwegian Wood from different cultures. Placing myself among the varied source of information, trying to find my own tune against the dissonant sounds.  It is very important for me to have my experience to be simulated, instead of being represented because I am not telling stories, I am speaking out.









Left: Untitled Landscape, Photography, 2020

Inspired by the state of oblivion of the singer performing on stage, I envisaged a new approach in the discussion of the virtual and the real. This work takes this hypothesis forward to explore the constitution of power between the virtual and real. Revealing that the virtual, not separated from, is rather an extension of the reality, carrying the ever-inflating desires that it had failed to withhold, becoming a site for making leaps in reality. Virtuality is a gateway, a sanctuary, but not a non-shithole. It is privileged in every possible way. This never falling, always at the peak concert is a rapture, celebrating the virtuality of its forthcoming collapsing the real.


Medium:

Video

Size:

5 mintues 11 secnods

This video responds to a poem that portrays the emancipation of a gay man from heterosexuality (Male Danube, Kehua Chan). The relief and loss described in this poem is something that I, even as a heterosexual female, emphasise with. Yet I was soon frustrated by the fact that the poet was also a misogynist. The feeling of insulation hence intensified. I thus rewrote this poem, and the story behind it, presenting a rather puzzling attitude towards my confrontation with heteronormativity. And most importantly, to illustrate the feeling I had after my feminist awakening, like the slave that had stepped out of Plato's cave, is one of loneliness and uneasiness.


Medium:

Video

Size:

5 minutes 18 seconds

The method of using body as a site for work is often used by marginalized groups, to make voices while refusing to be interpreted by the major language. This video work documents me getting a sanitary napkin tattooed on my chest to decorate the red scar I had. This tattoo, which was produced in the pain that I must endure, is both a memento to confront my differences and a declaration of my courage to highlight my feminine position. 


Medium:

Performance, video

Size:

6 minutes 44 seconds

The song Norwegian Wood by the Beatles inspired the Japanese writer Muraki Murakami to write the novel of the same name, as well as mentioning the song in the first page of this novel. And after reading Murakami Muraki's Norwegian Wood, Wu Bai from Taiwan then composed the song Norwegian Forest. The title, which in itself implies otherness, passes and evolves between different cultures, echoing my experience of being subjected to a hybridized system of values. In this video work, I carefully placed myself in the tune of a contrapuntal that does not work together, by singing the Norwegian Forest by Wu Bai out of the music of Norwegian Wood by the Beatles, to demonstrate my rootless, wind-drifting experience.


Medium:

Video

Size:

2 minutes 43 seconds