Photographer Johnny Tang pointing at his own photograph in the Pearl River Mart gallery in Tribeca

Johnny Tang: World of One (March 23–May 5, 2019)

Are you seeing double? Triple? Quadruple? Yes, and then some.

In the surreal and mind-bending images of WORLD OF ONE, photography Johnny Tang explored themes of individuality, conformity, and otherness. Using himself as the only model (yes, that’s all Tang), he juxtaposed contrasting actions and emotions in the same frame, representing different facets of the same personality. “These pictures are of me,” says Tang. “But they are not really about me. They combine philosophical concepts with surrealist aesthetics to build a portrait of how we develop our identities.”

His photographs were all shot on 35mm film. “The colors present in film (and absent in digital photography) remind me of pictures from my childhood,” he says “The color of the film is also nostalgic for an aesthetic of a different time, crucial to making the dreamlike world Iʼm presenting seem all the more familiar.”

Tang was inspired by Western and Asian philosophies and traditions alike, from surrealist photographers such as Man Ray, Salvador Dali, and Lee Miller to Chinese scroll paintings to Japanese manga. In this way, he pays homage to both his cultural backgrounds — Asian and American — which come together to create something new, and something uniquely Asian America.

Learn more about the artist in our interview with him.

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