At first glance, one might compare the young Chinese photographer Yang Yong to Nan Goldin or Larry Clark, for he, too creates sexy/abject pictures of marginal urban youth. However, when one examines Yang Yong’s work more closely, one connects it with its larger context, the “model” city of Shenzhen. In this light, Yang Yong’s work can be seen as a kind of photo-roman that exposes the specific state of being that is shared by his generation, who have immigrated from all over China to reinvent themselves in this artificially created “Special Economic Zone” that is supposed to be a testing ground for China’s new urbanization and modernization. Yang Yong is a sensitive and accurate observer of his generation, though his work is by no means documentary: The scenes he depicts are all directed and set up by the artist himself. Perhaps this is why Yang Yong’s work always radiates a certain cinematic flair.
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