SHE / POSITION 她 / 位

Petra Collins x Hailun Ma

April 15 – May 8, 2021

 “Petra Collins adopts the photographic style of the Playboy magazines from the 1970s, integrating her interpretation of Japanese popular culture and Naboko’s Lolita complex. Eliminating the gaze from the males and label of feminism, she’s conveying a sole message to the audience: women desire physical pleasure, and it’s an instinct. Inspired by Richard Avedon who created a large-scale project intended to create a portrait of Americans of the West, Hailun Ma explores her artistic language through photographing the people from her hometown. Her documentary photography combines the distinctive aesthetics of Xinjiang with hip-hop culture that she experienced in New York: Gen Z, ethnicity, urban life, road movie, and theatricality.”

— Leaf Greener, creative consultant and writer

MINE PROJECT is pleased to present “SHE / POSITION”, a joint exhibition by Canadian photographer Petra Collins and Chinese photographer Hailun Ma. Growing up in different cultural and educational backgrounds, the two millennial artists both approach fashion photography as a way of self-expression. The present exhibition builds an interesting dialogue and interaction with their works to explore the intimate relationship between fashion and art.

“Fashion photography” is considered to be the most important advertising device in commercial branding, but the discussion around it among artist critics has always been contradictory and complicated. On the one hand, it is treated as the ultimate embodiment of stereotypes created by the gaze of capitalism and consumerism. On the other hand, its aesthetic pursuit, and the relationship it creates between the creator and the spectator, allow it to have a playful side. Petra Collins and Hailun Ma deconstruct and reinterpret the concept of “fashion” in their own unique approach and perspective.

Petra Collins challenges the stereotypical impression of fashion photography through this series. The photo portrays a couple of young women playing in the fields. Making faces and taking selfies, playing on the lawn, flipping through phones, wings with scattered feathers, slightly wrinkled tight skirts, tilted composition and light spots, the characters are not afraid to show any part of their body, everything comes from a deeply personal angle and seems to deviate from the intentionally elaborate designs in traditional fashion photography. Petra’s perspective is the same as the close friends she travelled with, which helps to inject a sense of vitality and complexity to her characters.

Hailun Ma questions “who should be the subject of fashion” by challenging the concept of “ethnicity”. Born in Xinjiang, her works showcase the local customs of her hometown, employing techniques of traditional fashion photography to portray subjects commonly found in documentary photography – men and women of different ages, reinvented Uyghur atlas, floral curtains of contrasting colours, well-shaped brows, painted nails, even dressing her characters in designer clothing – none of which contradicts the honesty and beauty of the human touch. Ma’s work provides viewers a brand-new perspective on Xinjiang, one that is not concealed or backward. Ethnicity is another way to fashion.

Petra Collins gave up ballet when she was 15 due to an injury, the self-taught photographer is now the most in demand female creative in the fashion industry. Hailun Ma left Xinjiang at the age of 18 to pursue her studies in fashion photography in New York, upon graduation, she returned to her hometown to embark on a brand-new aesthetic discovery. It is no longer important to them how to define “fashion”, “art” and “feminism”, what is truly important is through a highly stylised form of self-expression, they are telling their own stories to the world, and creating their own “gaze”.

About the Artists
Petra Collins (b.1992, Toronto, Canada) is a multi-talented artist and director whose photography set the stylistic tone for much of the 2010s. Shooting since the age of 15, her work is fuelled by self-discovery and a contemporary femininity which explore the complex intersection of life as a young woman online and off. Collins weaves through the worlds of art, fashion, film, and music.She is currently working on her narrative feature debut set to shoot in 2021.

Petra’s work has been featured in publications including i-D, Dazed & Confused, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue ME China, Elle, Glamour, Jalouse, Vanity Fair, Purple, Interview and Vice.

The artist currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Hailun Ma (b.1992, Xinjiang, China) is a photographer who believes fashion is for everyone. After spending years studying and living in New York, the artist moved back to China to focus on her personal project about her homeland, Xinjiang, as well as to expand her career into fashion photography. Hailun has widely participated in international exhibitions in New York, Miami, Mumbai and her native China. Her work has been featured in publications including NYLONNew York Magazinei-D Magazine, and Artinfo.

Hailun Ma received her BA in Photography in 2017 and MPS in Fashion Photography from School of Visual Arts in New York in 2018.

The artist currently lives and works in Shanghai.