Statement from artist Cheng Huanfa on his photo series “The Days with Zhiyu”
I’ve been taking photos of my partner Zhiyu Chen’s daily life since 2013. We met and fell in love in 2012 while learning French in China before going to study in France. We’ve been living in Paris together since that following year. I would say it was an experience filled with conflict in the beginning. Feeling the intense melancholy of love, I started documenting her face. Her fragility and emotional sensitivity fascinated me. This series of photos is like a mirror of our intimate relationship: at first, I looked at her with both violence and love; but after living together for a year, our relationship stabilized and love trumped violence in my gaze.
I admire women. In the face of disease, pregnancy, aging and other conditions, women usually have to face more difficulties compared to men, but Zhiyu is so brave, especially in giving birth to our child. Zhiyu is not a model for me but a partner who is as powerful as me in the photos. I took a long look at myself, and I realized I’ve gradually become a feminist. I hope my photos capture her divinity, her strength and vulnerability. We are strengthening our bond and share the same thoughts while selecting pictures. This series of photos is ongoing and will be a love letter from me over a lifetime.
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