Ina Jang’s photographs, like all good art, take a little time to figure out. Her pastel-hued fashion photography is full of holes and omissions, as though the CIA censored out all the sensitive information. Have they been Photoshopped, or are we seeing a 3-D collage? What could possibly be so offensive about a light yellow Peter-Pan-collar blouse?
The 29-year-old photographer takes her inspiration from the great provocateurs of the '80s and '90s, like Martin Margiela. “I admire how he visually deconstructed the language of fashion,” Jang tells Lightbox’s Feifei Sun. In a way, her images do for photography what Margiela did for fashion, dissecting the constructs of the artifice to reveal its superficiality. “The photographs are often figurative and unidentified, casting a suspicion upon the photograph’s agenda,” she writes. “I allow the viewers to question whether they are truly subjects or merely objects.”
Using construction paper, an X-Acto knife, and a few other grade-school craft tools, Jang cuts through the two-dimensional wall of the fashion spread, destroying the carefully curated contents of each photograph. As an actor might break the “fourth wall” of the stage by interacting with the audience, so does Jang, breaking through the featureless facade of fashion photography to make little jokes and admissions to us. A spread for French fashion mag Jalouse is populated by models with their faces cut out—in the blank space behind them, an arm or leg pokes through, clad in accessories.
Jang’s distinctive style sprang from an experience common to most artists. As she was finishing her degree at School for the Visual Arts, Jang found herself sick of everything and everyone: “I was struggling to make images at the time,” she tells Lightbox. “I was forcing myself to like everything—from the people I was working with to locations where I was shooting, so I started getting rid of the elements I didn’t like in the picture.” Deleting, destroying, and redacting became a way to blow off steam, or, in Jang’s words, "escape from desolation and existential ennui."
What began as a therapeutic act became a distinctive style for the young photographer, who has shown in Taiwan, New York, and Switzerland since graduation. Now, she works from Brooklyn on a mix of fine art and fashion commissions. Her latest solo show, On the Paper, is on view at Ku Gallery in Taipei until September 23rd.
[H/t Lost at E Minor]