Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Conversation with Ying Ang

© Ying Ang

Once a nomad always a nomad. While I have been stationary for many years, my vagabond upbringing has left a permanent impression. For one I am forever hooked into a community of expats & globetrotters. And that is how I came across the work of Ying Ang. My friend Johanna, an Australian who grew up in Indonesia and now lives & works in Thailand introduced Ying and I when she found out Ying was coming to New York to study at ICP.
So today I present this interview with Ying Ang, in which she talks about photography as a vehicle for social change and shares imagery from Malawi where AIDS mercilessly continues to cause devastation.

© Ying Ang

NP: Tell us a little about yourself.

YA: A little... well, I'm 29 years old and looking forward to being seriously gray haired in a house by the sea somewhere, having produced meaningful and poignant bodies of work between now and then. I suffer from bouts of wanderlust frequently throughout the year, although it seems that no matter how long and far I roam, there is always much more ground to cover. Photography in itself is a daily ritual of sorts... a tribute to personal histories and a way of justifying the mundane and the momentous. The pursuit of photography as a career serves as a vehicle for social change, a visual record and a commentary of the way we are. I am also easily seduced by ideals.

© Ying Ang

NP: How did you discover photography?

YA: I don't think that we can escape photography in most parts of the developed world where advertising has taken over the majority of negative space in urban environments. The problem is being exposed to work that inspires or moves people towards something other than the modern obsession to consume. My first inspired moment with photographs came from old family photos, taken by my father. There was something sad and nostalgic about the faded scenes of holiday destinations, sepia toned colours and rounded corners, echoing a vaguely remembered youth that made me want to make a record of my own time in the sun.

© Ying Ang

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

YA: Inspiration for me lies in the poetry and drama of the human condition. Sometimes it is in our desperate isolation within our populous state, or perhaps in the unfolding of a tragedy that we court in full knowledge of the sorrow that comes inevitably after. Often, it is hope and fortitude in places where there is the least reason for it. I find myself watching this play of humanity, enraptured at how amazingly simple, complex, predictable and surprising the actors can be. All the world's a stage, right?

© Ying Ang

NP: How do your projects come about?

YA: Ideas for projects can come from the strangest moments. The more abstract ones come from music, lyrics, phrases from books that I'm reading. Other times they are born from conversations with my closest counterparts, discussing things we either love or hate or perhaps are moved by. Mostly it's from exploration and observation - being on the road, speaking with people along the way, hearing their stories (because everybody has one) and feeling like it has to be told in a manner that is as visually poetic and truthful as I can muster.

© Ying Ang

NP: What’s next?

YA: I am attending the 1-yr documentary and photojournalism course at the International Center of Photography in New York in September. It will be the first time in 7 years that I will be in one city for such a long amount of time. I am looking forward to developing projects with greater longevity and depth than I have worked on in the past. I also hope to explore ideas with regards to pushing the boundaries of forming photo narratives that hold both magnitude and gravity. While I am in New York, I would also like to look into socio-environmental stories to the north of the border and cultural issues to the south.

NP: Thank you so much!

To see more of Ying's work please visit:


photo editing service said...

A great collection of photos from a selfless person.

Anonymous said...

good focus on documentary photographers recently!

Nisha said...

Thanks so much. This was a really inspiring interview with a very articulate person!