Under Blue

Yao Cong &

Extreme close-up shots show human body parts which are gradually covered over with powder and makeup. The beautifying process begins with the combing of smooth, wet hair, and the intensive application of makeup to the eyelids, eyelashes and eyebrows. Next, the lips are carefully painted in a striking red tone. Color is then meticulously applied to a face, which changes layer by layer. Unexpectedly, a new element is introduced in the form of a blue powder. The resulting image features stark contrasts, as the mouth is sprinkled with the blue substance until we can no longer see any red. After the mouth has turned completely blue, we see another body part, also buried in the blue powder. It is difficult to identify at first, especially given the extreme close-up photography. It only becomes clear as the work draws on that the body part in question is a male reproductive organ. It is gradually covered over, before vanishing entirely under the powdery covering.

Watching Under Blue, the viewer has the sense of being part of an intimate process of transformation. At the same time, the artist confronts the audience with their own preconceptions concerning femininity and masculinity. A stereotypical notion of femininity, suggested by the process of applying makeup, is interrupted by the presence of male genitalia. Instead of giving in to the impulse to sort the images into the categories feminine and masculine, perhaps we should try to perceive a body simply as a body. (Joana da Silva Düring)

About the video

Title Under Blue
Year 2015
Videonale VIDEONALE.16
Length 00:06:38
Format 16:9
Country United Kingdom,
Language No dialog
Courtesy the artist
Specifications color, sound, single-channel video

About the artist

Yao Cong
  • 1992 in Xi'an, CHN.
    Studied at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou Shi, CHN, and at Royal College of Art in London, GBR