Ying Ang Melbourne, Australia
Gold Coast, Australia I lived here for most of my life. I was raised on the taste of lawnmower fumes in the air and the dark gleam of perpetually circling crows. It is the tyranny of this Lynchian landscape, dominated by intolerance and unexpected violence, where I became a reluctant witness to more crimes than I knew the names of by the time I was 18. All of this set in a town that looked and was marketed like a suburban paradise.
“A sunny place for shady people” became a term that began circulating through the Australian media when referring to the ongoing melodramas of shysters that end up settling on the Gold Coast. A perfect strip of golden beach where one of ill-repute can reinvent themselves, where tales of rape, drugs, murder and extortion are whispered behind pastel colored walls and porcelain veneered grins.
Once labelled as the tourist capital and now declared as the crime capital of Australia, this is a tale of a place that laid the flawed foundation of its character upon a mirage of tranquility. It is about the price of those swimming pools and sun drenched afternoons. It is about real estate and the beautiful lie sold and bought here every day.
Based between Melbourne, Singapore and New York, Ying Ang is a photographer of social and contemporary issues. Her interests lie in creating visual and literary content for print, web and installation, exploring a range of formats and styles. Ying has exhibited internationally in group and solo shows from New York to Arles, in addition to working for clients such as the Wall Street Journal, The Fader in New York, Das Magazin in Zurich, Yo Dona in Madrid and Afisha Mir in Moscow on editorial features. She graduated as valedictorian for the 2009-2010 class of Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at The International Centre of Photography, has garnered a wide range of of international awards and was a participant in the Reflexions Masterclass of 2011-2013.
Ying has lived and worked extensively in Asia, Africa, Australia and North America, having pursued post-graduate studies in Political Science with a background in Biotechnology and Communications.
Ying Ang was chosen by photographer Darko Stanimirović
Laatikkomo’s interterview with Ying Ang on April 28th, 2014.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
YA: I was born in Singapore and have lived in Perth, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and New York. The place that influenced me the most was the Gold Coast. I was there for 17 years and is the reason that I have made my first major book project on that place. It is a city that was formative to who I am as a person and the things that concern me the most in a personal and also political way.
L: What is your first memory of photography?
YA: My first memory of photographer was in 2002, when my father gave me my first camera and I began to see for the first time what the world looked like through a subjective frame. It was such a revelation to discover that I could have a visual voice and opinion that could be shared across languages and and borders.
L: Many of your images are taken in an urban or suburban setting. What attracts you this environment?
YA: I find urban and suburban environments fascinating because to me, they are a marker of our contemporary future as a species. These environments point towards the future of our collective civilization and therefore the issues that they bring up in terms of our humane well-being strike me as being worthy of contemplation and criticism.
L: There seems to be a kind of haze to your images, like slightly over-exposed film, smog from a big city, or faded images. Is this an intentional affect you strive for in your work?
YA: The aesthetic to my images is a conscious choice that is anchored by the way I see this particular narrative of the Gold Coast. The city itself is built on a pastel utopia and I wanted to enhance that to further encourage the viewer to question how we define safety and danger, tension and peace.
L: What is your relationship to your subjects? Or do you know them at all? – Is that relationship important to how you photograph your subjects?
YA: Most of the subjects that I photographed for this particular project are either friends that I have known for a very long time or the children of my friends. The strangers in my book are far and few between. The purpose of this is that I wanted to replicate in images my passage and experience through this city. I spent most of my time with these people growing up there and sometimes crossed paths with strangers. I have effectively chosen my subjects in the same way that I chose to have them in my life… both closely and also at a distance.
L: You create strong narratives with your images. Do you seek inspiration from specific films or literature?
YA: I seek inspiration from a variety of sources depending on the specific project that I am working on. The Gold Coast project was influenced by cinema along the lines of David Lynch’s work. Other works that I have done have a strong background in poetry, prose, psychology and philosophy.
L: Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work (shown in Laatikkomo)?
YA: Ennui, facade, happiness, depression, violence, safety, alienation
Thank you so much Ying Ang!!