ADMA 2022-2023


Yao Yuan


How do queer relationships organize themselves, how does queer body and queer representation acquire visibility through poetry, sensuality, archive, while evading commodity culture? How to envision and build upon queer intimacy through mutual (un)learning and from the ancestral, the indigenous across cultures? How can these images challenge the politics of vision, rearrange preconceptions and expectations that generally surround hegemonic ideologies connected to race, gender and kinship?

The research tries to first look into indigenous societies such as The Mosuo matrilineal culture. The Mosuo is a small ethnic group living in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in China, close to the border with Tibet, where women reign and all members share a high degree of autonomy in terms of performing gender roles. As a starting point, by understanding their alternative ways of social organization towards social relationships, which drastically contrast the capitalist patriarchy, I hope to gain a deeper knowledge of the present reality and imagination around alternate narratives. In so doing I believe enables easier materialization of such narratives. Patriarchal societies have established limits between the public and the private, between the personal and the political. These limits have perpetuated the masculine appropriation of knowledge and power that has resulted in the devastation of the planet and marginalization. Queering as an action modifies binary understanding of our world and ideas around gender and hierarchy, while intersectional awareness keeps us from ignoring how seemingly separate social issues accumulate to form nuanced injustices. The personal is always political.

We are living the power of information, images and storytelling are an essential part of this process of learning and unlearning. Queering the photographic gaze is an attempt to find the value and connectivity in differences, to cultivate empathy and vulnerability. By looking at intersectional gazes and specifically queer gazes in representations as documentary measures, I aim to research and explore the way artists with identities outside of gender norms utilize their gazes to destabilize the heteropatriarchal scaffolding of seeing, that polishes our vision.


Yao Yuan (1988, CN) is a visual artist, whose practice navigates between photography, design and moving image. They are currently based in Antwerp, Belgium.