I’ll go out on a limb here and declare that the modern Chinese Sexual Revolution began when the first woman ditched her blue Mao suit in favor of a polyester skirt and saggy anklet stockings after Mao died and China began reopening to the West.
Over the past couple years, though, this revolution has been picking up more steam.
First there was Muzi Mei:
In the summer of 2003, a 25-year-old journalist from Guangzhou started writing short essays about her sex life. She published them on Internet bulletin boards using the pen name Muzi Mei, a play on the Chinese characters of her real name, Li Li.
Although not particularly graphic by Western standards, her essays were not coy. Nor did they spare her lovers’ egos when it came to describing her experiences. None of which mattered, until she published a sarcastic post about a clumsy coupling described as “doggy style” in an alley with a well-known Chinese rock musician named Wang Lei….
Then, earlier this year, pictured to the right, a 25-year old woman in Beijing calling herself “Mu Mu” and claiming to be a Communist Party member began blogging and posting provocative webcam photos of herself in various stages of semi-undress, a story that was eventually picked up by The New York Times.
In one of her first blog posts, she wrote that
I am a dance girl, and I am a party member. I don’t know if I can be counted as a successful Web cam dance girl. But I’m sure that looking around the world, if I am not the one with the highest diploma, I am definitely the dance babe who reads the most and thinks the deepest, and I’m most likely the only party member among them….
And now the latest entrant in this revolution is Yin Ling, pictured left and below, along with her collaborator, Russian photographer Hiraokanovsky Kuratachenko. Although she was born in Taiwan and was partly raised in Japan, some of Yin Ling’s images seem to make definite political statements directed P.R.C.-ward: posing in a bikini holding a copy of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book”; dressed in “alluring” fashion with, ahem, a small wired electronic “personal” device strapped to her thigh in Chinese bicycle traffic, holding an umbrella from “The Forbidden City”; standing in a doorway with a couple old grannies in the background, wearing a skimpy outfit–with a whip and S/M boots; and, well, so on. Here’s a brief biography of her from Taiwan’s Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art Web site:
Born in 1978 in Taipei and grew up in Japan, Yin Ling began modeling and acting at the age of 16. When she met Russian photographer Hiraokanovsky Kuratachenko at 19, they began collaborating on a series of performative and photographic works, proclaiming their distinctive political belief with erotically charged images. By means of humor, sarcasm, impersonation, manipulation of political symbols and a keen sense of marketing, she has successfully made herself into an idol in cyber space at the forefront of eroticism revolution.
Fair Warning: Some of the photos in this series are borderline “soft porn,” save for but a slight adjustment in the camera angle. Please look beyond that, if possible, for the artistic angle. It’s really there, although sometimes in bizarre ways, such as where the model is peeling down her underthings…in front of what appears to be a broken, feces-stained urinal.
You can view numerous pictures from Yin Ling and Hiraokanovsky Kuratachenko’s collaboration here.
The EastSouthWestNorth blog, which first tipped us off to this body of work, has a commentary and selections of the China-themed pictures here.
If you will, this China-themed photo series is really as much (or more) political as it is glamour/erotic, and I think the Yin Ling/Hiraokanovsky Kuratachenko team is one to keep an eye on. Although, guys, you might want to prepare an explanation in case your wife or girlfriend (or worse, both!) happens across you while you’re keeping an eye on them.
Yin Ling with Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book”–
probably not quite how The Great Helmsman pictured its distribution:
I’ve never seen this while walking through a Hutong
The ancestors will not be amused: