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Rian Dundon July 21, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
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Huang Ping and Mao Mao in their dorm room at the ‘Night Cat’ in Changsha, China, 2007

Rian Dundon (b.1980, USA) earned a B.F.A. in Photography and Imaging from New York University in 2003. Rian’s photographs and writing have been featured in publications including The Irish Times Magazine, Newsweek, OUT, Time, Stern, and Swindle Magazine. He is a contributor at New America Media, the leading national advocate for ethnic media in the United States. In 2007 he received a Tierney Fellowship in support of his work on fringe youth culture in interior China. Rian has exhibited in solo and group shows at Beijing Photo Spring, The Camera Club of New York, The New York Photo Festival, and The Angkor Photography Festival. He has lived in Mainland China since 2005 and is currently based in Beijing.

About the Photograph:

“This is a picture of Huang Ping (sitting) and Mao Mao in the employee dormitory of the underground gay nightclub where they worked in Changsha, Hunan province, China. Huang Ping was unsuccessfully attempting to wake Mao Mao for a rehearsal of their nightly dance routine. The club was called the ‘Night Cat’ and was Changsha’s first gay bar to open after homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997. Huang Ping, who I followed for about a year as part of a larger project on young Chinese, was at the time a pre-op transsexual. Six months later, after the bar had been closed, Huang Ping reemerged with a new, male identity complete with short hair and fashionable boys clothes. I think this story is an apt illustration of the transience in Chinese society. The kids who worked at the ‘Night Cat’ were all migrants, rural youth who had traveled to the city to find work as dancers or wait staff. They were also gay, which made staying in their hometowns unbearable. In the city they could be somewhat open with their sexuality. They could be free.”

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