Scan It –
Whether I was aware of it or not, my ideals of race and identity were shaped by and linked through social media contents. In my ongoing photography project Scan It, I unravel my experience of being abused, marginalized, and dismantled on social media. These images were produced in September 2020 during the peak of coronavirus outbreak and during United States’ political upheaval. I investigate the ways our identities have been connected to societal expectations by combining self-portraiture within QR codes. From scanning, connecting, and alternatively isolating, I regard these QR codes as a representation of the unsearchable status that was not afforded equally to those I loved.
As a Chinese international student, this series was produced in Shanghai where I was once rejected for publication because my artist statement was not “politically correct.” I felt in grief, because I am deeply
attracted to the idea exploring the gray area between current political residue and social media influence. I hope this exhibition will widen the definition of freedom for me to show a photography series which probably could have not be accepted in China. For so long, I’ve been carrying this project around and perhaps this is the publication, where freedom is democratized, where we give our voices its existence.
Michelle Sijia Ma