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Becoming

Date & Time:
June 30, 2018 - August 30, 2018
Location:
+15 Gallery, Arts Commons
Speaker:
Yufan Zhang

Artist's statement

Becoming navigates my inner journey since I have moved to Canada in September 2016. In this body of work, I am investigating my ongoing negotiation of identity with regards to gender norms as I acculturate myself to a new setting.

“Feminist theory argues that men and women are exposed to different models of moral development during their childhood, which instills different values and characteristics based on their gender” and “leads to gender stereotypes or schemas.” According to Butler, it is impossible to evaluate gender without its political and cultural context. The social structures are conflicting between China and the West. However, a feminine ideal has been constructed by both Chinese and Western societies, which imposes external (e.g., makeup, clothes, hair, and figure) and internal (e.g., attitude, value, emotion, and thinking) standards on the female gender.

I have encountered different gender stereotypes imposed on females in both Chinese and Western societies. The feminine ideal I observed and perceived from Western media and my interaction with young Western women has many dissimilarities from Chinese female ideologies. For example, Pirkko Markula notes that “heterosexual, thin, toned, sexy femininity seems to be more attractive to men in the west”,while skinny, docile, cute and innocent femininity is universal in China. By performing a stereotypical “western girl”, I want to capture the tension that how a relatively “westernized” girl from a Chinese family in China continues to be influenced by traditional Chinese gender norms; the tension that happens with respect to self-identify in me and other China-born Chinese young women.

My photographic research shows my exploration of self-identity, female sexuality, and female subjectivity.

References:

1. Gilligan, C. 1982. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development.  Harvard University Press.
2. Valian, V. 2000. Schemas that explain behavior. In Women in Higher Education: A Feminist Perspective. 2nd edn. Ends J. Glazer-Raymo, B. K. Townsend, B. Ropers-Huilan. Pearson Custom Publishing. pp. 22-33.
3. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity.  New York; London; Routledge.