#Aの38. Queer Asians Seem Not On The Billboard?

Writing by Avantelier, Photo|proofreading by Shou-An Chiang

Avantelier is a sustainable fashion platform that focuses on bringing sustainability forward in the fashion industry. We are a growing platform that highlights green fashion brands based, as well as topics around trending issues of fashion, innovative tech and global talent. We are very honoured to collaborate on this “International Women’s Day” project with contemporary photographer, Shou-An Chiang, she is currently working on the “QUEERASIAN ” project. This project idea came from the billboards in the tube stations. According to Shou-An’s observation for some time, she found that there are no Asian queers’ images on the billboards. This phenomenon inspired her motivation to discuss Asian queers’ self-identification and their voices through her photography. Shou-An also would like more people to join this topic, unblocking this seemingly taboo topic.  

A: Could you please give our viewers a short brief about your project?

S:  The project I have been working on, its name is QUEERASIAN. QUEERASIAN is an anthropological exploration of queerness, ethnicity, and diaspora amongst underrepresented Asian communities in Western society. The long-term project draws on my personal experience along with my peers’ first-hand observations, gradually incorporating a broader base of subjectivity. The participants come from different parts of Asia: from East Asia and South East Asia to South Asia and Pan Asia. While interacting with the subjects, I gathered first-hand experience of the differences between Eastern and Western cultures concerning queerness. I aim to use such observations to map out a miniature Asia in the diverse city of London, where values are constantly evolving and changing. Through a series of environmental portraits, I visualise the queerness of different social and political ‘outsiders’.In this way, the project investigates the multifaceted experiences of the LGBTQ+ community belonging to the Asian diaspora, including those who do not conform to the norms of Western culture. Raising the awareness that Asian identities can not only be shown because of

their race or ethnicity but also because of their sexuality, the project hopes to provoke discussions and open dialogue about feeling boxed in whilst defying the norm.

A: Through the images from Shou-An’s sharing, we realised the queer Asians were trying to tell their stories authentically with their most comfortable body posture, styling and the space they are in. Their eyes reveal a strong and determined soul, expressing their sexual orientation. We are looking forward to continuing to see more development through Shou-An’s journey. 

A: What are the biggest challenges for you on this project? How did you solve the issues?

S: For me, time management is the biggest challenge, because there is only one member who works on this project, and that is me. Furthermore, I have other photography work full-time. I appreciate their patience with every friend and participant and their engagement. This project could not be made without their support and joining. This project is a long-term project, I arrange 2-3 shooting meetings with the participants per month. It is a slow developing process, but on the other hand, I have been receiving more profound feelings and keep gaining more inspiration from this slow process. 

A: We also believe that a slow process contributes to great results. With the nourishment of mutual learning during this period, the series of creations are more eye-catching. Yet, how to hire helpers at the right time is also a consideration that all independent creators should think about. It would be a sustainable approach to pushing unlimited creativity.  Avantelier’s aim is to sustainably deliver all voices around the world to each other, we will keep updating the information about QUEERASIAN to you. 

About Shou-An Chiang,

With an MA in Contemporary Photography, Practices and Philosophies from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, Shou-An Chiang currently lives and works in London. She works across photography, video, performance and installation, in which she explores the ambiguity of relationships and identities, and portrays alienation in a pluralistic society from her own experience. A recent project, QUEERASIAN, portraits of Asian queer people in Western society, aims to show the faces and stories of these communities from an insider’s perspective. Recent exhibitions include: Group Exhibition Who’s On It at South London Gallery(2023); Duo Exhibition  Images Scene 3: Projector and Transparent Objects at Hsinchu 241 Art Gallery, Hsinchu, Taiwan(2023); Duo Exhibition Over Transparency at Carp Gallery, Taichung, Taiwan(2023); Solo exhibition, QUEERASIAN, at Liquid Gold Studios, London (2022); Bon Voyage! at Slash Arts, London (2022) and Visual Noise, at Maryland Studio, London (2022). Her works are selected by Photo Oxford 2023 and shown at The Yard, Modern Art Oxford. Her co-produced film Separated(2021) is funded and premiered in Taipei by Together We Film (其中短片頻道). She has been Invited to New York and Philadelphia, USA to perform in the immersive performance Where Are You Today?(2022).

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