Jan 15, 2013

An Actress of Hebei Opera, Huoshentai, Henan Province

An Actress of Hebei Opera, Huoshentai, Henan Province


Liu Zheng

(Chinese, b. 1969)

Gelatin silver print

Paper: 45.7 x 45.7 cm (18 x 18 in.); Matted: 71.1 x 66 cm (28 x 26 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2012.106



This work is part of a group of photographs representing the rebirth of more independent photography in China. Here we see a local opera star dressed for a female role. As cross-dressing among opera singers between male and female roles was common practice in traditional China, the gender of the singer—without the title—remains ambiguous. Traditionally, the social status of Liu’s actress would not make her a worthy portrait subject.

Liu Zheng started his career as a photojournalist for the Workers Daily in the 1990s, a time of rapid social change, burgeoning individual prosperity, and increasing openness to the West. In 1994, Liu began his series The Chinese to chronicle and portray contemporary Chinese society of all social strata.

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