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Guanyu Xu's photographic interventions offer an exploration of his complex personal history and identity; born and raised in China, Xu moved to the US in 2014. His work bridges the gap between the personal and political, highlighting the disparities and connections between the two nations, in which his intersectional experience of the US meets his conservative familial experience of China. 


In his recent series, Temporarily Censored Home (2018-2019), Xu covertly created intricately layered photographic installations in his parents’ home in Beijing, queering the normativity of this heterosexual space. By inserting a vast array of both made and collected photographs, including images from family albums, adverts and editorials he collected as a teen, and portraits of himself and other gay men, Xu reclaims his home as a queer space of freedom and rebellion. In some rooms, photographs of varying sizes cover every visible inch, while in others oversized prints are draped over pieces of furniture or hanging from the ceiling. Doorways and windows are replaced with photographs to create dizzying perspectives in which the viewer is led to wonder what is real and what is not. These juxtapositions collapse space and time, pointing to the relationship between individual freedom and global political governance while aiming to dissolve the borders of opposition.

徐冠宇 Guanyu Xu (b.1993, Beijing) is an artist currently based in Chicago and a lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Influenced by the production of ideology in American visual culture and a conservative familial upbringing in China, Xu’s practice extends from examining the production of power in photography to the question of

personal freedom and its relationship to political regimes. He negotiates this from the perspective as a Chinese gay man. In his work, Xu migrates between mediums like photography, new media, and installation. These movements operate similarly to his displaced and fractured identity.  

He is the recipient of the Chicago DCASE Artist Grant (2022), CENTER Development Grant (2021), Hyéres International Festival Prize (2020), PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai Exposure Award (2020), Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Annual Competition (2019), Lensculture Emerging Talent Award (2019), and Kodak Film Photo Award (2019). He has received artist residencies including ACRE (Chicago, IL), Light Work (Syracuse, NY), and Latitude (Chicago, IL). His works have been exhibited and screened internationally including the Aperture Foundation, New York; International Center of Photography, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; New Orlean Museum of Art, New Orleans; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Wesleyan University, Middletown; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Mint Museum, Charlotte; 36th Kasseler Dokfest, Germany, and others. His work can be found in public collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, and New Orleans Museum of Art. His works have been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, ArtAsiaPacific, The New Yorker, W Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Dazed, and China Photographic Publishing House.


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