徐冠宇 Guanyu Xu (b.1993 Beijing) is an artist currently based in Chicago. He was the recipient of the Fred Endsley Memorial Fellowship and the James Weinstein Memorial Fellowship.

His works have been exhibited internationally including the Aperture Foundation, New York; ICP Museum, New York; Format Photo Festival, UK; The Union League Club of Chicago, Chicago; Mint Museum, Charlotte, and others. His works have been featured in numerous publications including Aint-Bad Magazine, Musée Magazine, Der Greif, and China Photographic Publishing House.

Artist Statement

Influenced by the production of ideology in American visual culture and a conservative familial upbringing in China, my practice extends from examining the production of power in photography to the question of personal freedom and its relationship to political regimes. I negotiate this from my perspective as a Chinese gay man. In my work, I migrate between media like photography, new media, and installation. The migration and shifting of media in my practice operate similarly to my displaced and fractured identity.

In my MFA Show, I will present my work Temporarily Censored Home and Complex Formation. In Temporarily Censored Home, I covertly situated photographs in my teenage home in Beijing to queer the normativity of my parents’ heterosexual space. These images taken in the past four years consist of portraits of me and other gay men in their domestic settings from my project “One Land To Another”; prints of my artwork made in the U.S.; photographs of landscape and built environment taken in the United States, Europe, and China; torn pages from film and fashion magazines that I collected as a teenager; images from my family photo albums. Through positioning and layering images, I aim to juxtapose, contradict, and collapse space and time, disrupting my teenage home. It bridges the relationship between personal and political in the context of both China and the US. Even though these installations were not permanent, I reclaimed my home in Beijing as a queer space of freedom and temporary protest.

Complex Formation is projected behind one of the hanging mural prints of Temporarily Censored Home. In this video, I edited cellphone images taken by my mother during our three trips to the US and Europe, along with 3D animations I made. The video is accompanied by my monologue and my conversation with my mother on our varying ideas of art, cultural influence, the American Dream, the ideal life, safety in both the US and China, and the potentiality of the future.

Still from Complex Formation
Installation View of Exhibition Parallel Journeys

The Living Room, 2018; The Dining Room, 2018
The Dining Room, 2018

from Temporarily Censored Room
Opened Closets, 2019

from Temporarily Censored Room
Installation View of Exhibition Parallel Journeys

Complex Formation, 2017-2019; Map of the World, 2018