Meng-Yu Yan 颜梦钰 is a multimedia artist who blends digital photographic methods with analogue manipulation, sculpture, time-based mediums, and installation. Infused with Daoist philosophy and a love for darkness, the artist enjoys playing “photographic games” with their audience; amalgamating shadows, mirrors, light, glass and water to conjure visual dreamscapes.
Characterised by spontaneity and experimentation Yan’s practice conveys strong conceptual engagement with self-reflection, dreams and alienation. As a first generation Australian-Chinese queer non-binary artist, Yan’s work consistently confronts the intersections between race, culture, spirituality, sexuality and gender identity. Marked by fragmentation, multiplicity, and the unconscious their self-portraiture is reminiscent of Surrealist photographers such as Claude Cahun and Duane Michals. Using photography as a medium to channel otherworldly and paranormal phenomena, they are fascinated by spirit photography, divination, performative haunting, and astrological practices.
Their work has been featured in over forty exhibitions across Australia, China, Mexico, and Paris. Yan’s first solo exhibition ‘occulere – vision & concealment’ (2017) debuted at Dominik Mersch Gallery. In 2019 Meng was awarded the Ross Steele Scholarship to fund their residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Yan completed their Master of Fine Arts (Research) funded by the Australian Government RTP Scholarship at UNSW Art & Design in 2020. Their research explored queer spectrality and cultural haunting through experimental photography. Recently, their exhibition 'Double Witness' curated by Professor Ari Heinrich and Dr Lindsay Kelley debuted in 2023 at the Australian National University's Australian Centre on China in the World. They were also selected as a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize (2023) at the Australian National Portrait Gallery and Highly Commended in the Olive Cotton Award (2023).
The artist acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation on whose land they live and work. Sovereignty was never ceded.