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All work and photographs © You He

You He

  • About the artist

    You He graduated from Central Saint Martins, London in 2018 with an MA in Contemporary Photography.

  • Links

    Artist website:

    Instagram: @heyoubeijing

  • About the work

    Life is a constant flow of presence, to represent life is to give away the mobile presence to a static absence. Although different in many ways, skateboarding and photography intersected from different directions to a point that ‘to grasp the reality is to live in the presence and go beyond the absence’, therefore a new territory is opened up where I come to experience but not to document. Since the reality keeps changing, to fully grasp it, instead of trying to document the past, we need to experience the ‘now’. The experiences I have gained through skateboarding and photography have added layers like lasagna and interwoven through my life. The patterns they have formed have pointed me in a certain direction, and I want to integrate this experience into my work.


    Bridging the gap and beyond the division


    There seems to be a division formed between skateboarding and photography. During the activity of skateboarding, I devote myself with intense multi-sensory engagement, experiencing the direct confrontation of body and space. This includes destroying and recreating the meaning of self and space; the body is in the presence and the experience is present.


    While in photography the body remains behind the lens , it gets a result with the absence of the photographer. The mechanically produced image shows the reality of the past and so photography is criticised for its ‘lack of present’. when we lose ourselves in the ‘black box’ in search of the information, it is a ‘lack of presence’.


    Our society has always favored ‘presence’ over ‘absence’, the ‘present’ over the ‘past’. But I am troubled by this thought, since it shows a hierarchic way of looking at the world, that one is better than another, that comes from the model of phallocentric society, as stated by Victor Burgin.


    I have remarked that the history and pre-history of modern art in our patriarchal, phallocentric, culture is stamped by the presence of fetishism, the fetishism of presence.1


    It is also confined by the structure of binary thinking which divide the world into two oppositions.


    By exploring the rules of engagement that govern the use of images, it might be possible to free thought from its dependence on the Platonic opposites of image (eikon) and Reality (eidos), and from the binary dualisms that follow from it. For as long as the rule of this binary model persists, it is impossible to escape what Deleuze branded as ‘the four iron collars of representation: Identity in the concept, opposition in the predicate, analogy in judgment and resemblance in perception.’2


    In order to break down the hierarchy and binary thinking, I turn to look for difference instead of division.


    1. Burgin, Victor, The end of art theory: criticism and postmodernity (London: Macmillan,1986)

    2. Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton,(London: Continuum,2004),p.330


    Text provided by the artist.

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