Campaign Child by Chinese artist Xiaopeng Yuan uses the backdrop of commercial photoshoots to create new, unexpected narratives through the manipulation of bodies and objects in space. While developing as an artist, Yuan found himself routinely commissioned by Chinese kidswear brands to photograph white Western models and American settings within his native Shanghai. Using this controlled context as a parameter, Yuan began to excavate surreal, incongruous images with his young collaborators.
Campaign Child indulges in the language of commercial photography to create new meanings out of disparate objects, bodies and situations. Each image attempts a balance: between the pure, clean, functional axis of photography as a communication tool, and the slippages that occur when juxtaposition and narrative gaps leave space for the mind to unfold. Yuan’s images often feel as if you have stumbled into a story in medias res: a young girl emerging from a tablecloth, an escaped budgie being trapped, a hospital bed dripping with liquid. Through unlikely combinations, Yuan asks us to consider what is existing outside the frame and forge links across disparate scenes, where each photograph bounces off the other to create uncanny new contexts. By restructuring commercial photoshoots into a space of imagination and play, Campaign Child also speaks of the uneasy relationship between Western capitalist motifs and the global contexts they insert themselves into, while questioning how desire is validated through photography.
Published by Loose Joints, 48 pgs, 27.5 × 21 cm, Softcover, Nov 2019, 9781912719068