As a foreigner in the United States, I need a passport, I-20, and visas to provide the answer to a very simple question: who am I? This body of work grew out of this urgent curiosity about identity. Meta-cultural and meta-biological factors like race, gender, and nationality give me a certain identity without me asking for it. However, I tend to forget the fact that my identity is negotiable and is constantly being negotiated around and inside me. At a certain point, I realize that in order to understand the man I have become, I need to re-encounter my journey through life with the particular and unique experiences that make up the life of an individual.
A single photograph can exist simultaneously as art, object, evidence, document, and historic record. Front-facing photos are required for numerous ID documents as proof of identity. However, there is no single layer of identity, but rather multiple and converging identities. The choice of myself as a subject provides me with an opportunity to deeply investigate the issue of identity from a personal point of view and expand my exploration to encompass ancestry, country, and global view. Correspondingly, photography plays a very important role in my work, but this project is not limited to this medium. I also adopt various documents, family photos, and appropriated images from TV series - different in style and intent from my own pictures - and gather everything together to make an associative manifesto of self-identity. This kind of connection is loose, but each photo, document, and object becomes context to understand the other subject. The result functions as a demonstration of photograph’s ineffability, its power to construct identities, and makes my singular exploration relevant for a broad audience.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Artists' books; Photography, Artistic; Identity (Psychology) in art
Imaging Arts (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)
Dong, Yuxiang, "Identity Aperture: Self-portraits, Genealogy, and Other Archives" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus