Mengwen Cao

Mengwen Cao

November 11, 2018

Mengwen Cao, Here We Are, 2016

Join us at the cHURCH where Mengwen Cao will be discussing her work at the intersections of race, gender, and cultural identity. This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

During the cHURCH, Cao will be focusing on two projects. “Here We Are” is a multimedia project exploring Chinese queer identity. Cao’s parents thought she had never fallen in love. They never talked about relationships because Cao had a secret: She likes girls. She made a video letter coming out to them and recorded their unfiltered response through Facetime. Cao’s story is not unique. Only 5% of LGBTQ people in China are completely open about their identity due to huge family and societal pressures. The project is to give voice to this community and explore the hidden stories.
Struggling to understand the in-between space of cultural identity, Cao made the second project “I Stand Between” on transracial adoptees, specifically Asians adopted by white families. Using environmental portraits, still life photos and interview audios, the project creates a dialogue about race, cultural identity and how we define ourselves within the context of family.

Mengwen Cao (b. 1990, Hangzhou, China) is a photographer, videographer and multimedia producer based in New York. She is a current fellow at the Magnum Foundation. She graduated from New Media Narratives and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in 2017. She received her BA in English from Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, and her MA in Instructional Technology from UT Austin. Her projects have been featured on The New York Times, NPR, Mashable, BUST, Foreign Policy, The Guardian etc. She has participated in international exhibitions like Photoville, Jimei Arles, Lianzhou Foto Festival. Her recent work investigates the in-between space of race, gender, and cultural identity.