It’s like living in two different sets of time and space;by turns, I cycle through two little lives. One clearly faces many people, flourishingand varied, and the other is only open to me, chaotic and changing.
A vital young person, an independent photographer, a goodfamily member, a… I would describe myself with all of the adjectives anyonecould think of. But sometimes, I battle depression. Insomnia, loss of appetite,and loss of vitality… I really want to embrace it, but I also want to stopbefore I careen over the edge.
“The momentyou realize that you’re happy is the moment it begins to slip away.” Manypeople think that depression is simply feeling despair or sadness, like when thelittle things in life make you unhappy—unhappiness at a receding hairline caused by stress at work, orunhappiness at the cooling of a passionate romance… In fact,depression is still feeling that sadness even though everything is going well. It’s like beingcaught in a whirlpool or blanketed by a huge shadow.
Writing these words was not easy, and when I was shootingthis series and talking with friends, I tried to avoid these topics. Everyone hasthe right to feel sad and be swallowed by that sadness, and people who have notexperienced it cannot fully understand it.
Frankly saying what I wanted to say, bringing it out intothe open, would be difficult for anyone. However, I admire the courage andconfidence of the girls who sought me out. They unreservedly took off theirsocial disguises; they relaxed and told me about their personal experiences,which represented sincere confidence and reassurance for me.
Despite this, we cannot escape that depression inyoung people is a common issuetoday.
I had originally thought that depressionwas an imaginary feeling, one that was very distant, but you might suffer from depressionyourself one day. When that happens, all of your dissatisfaction barrels downon you like a growing snowball, burying you entirely so that you cannot move. Thatpersistent suffocating feeling is like dozens of hot knives being simultaneouslydriven into your chest. You may not even dare to look in the mirror, but whenwe look at Zhang Yateng’s pictures, it’s like seeing a stranger in that mirror.
Zhang attempts to record inphotographs the different feelings he experiences on meeting people. This is anexperiment with real emotions and resistance to anxiety. When we realize thegoodness of certain things, it quickly begins to fade. He uses photography onlyto record the “collapse” and confusion of life, and for Zhang, photography is arelease valve, or maybe a treatment method.
This series is made up of theemotions and body language of his subjects. Zhang Yateng “frankly” presents atrue yet absurd, calm yet expressive little world to viewers. In these works,we are almost able to feel the cycles of the natural world—appearing,disappearing, and multiplying endlessly. This cycle reflects the grief andhelplessness in life.
-Curator: Wu Xihuang