“Portrait of Shanghai” By Alger Liang

Portrait of Shanghai

Art by Alger Liang

Seeing and being seen. Being and not being. How do you see yourself in a place and culture that is yours but feels foreign? What is the relationship between nationality and ethnicity? How does space reorientate identity? Who are you and where do you belong? Where are you from? No. I mean, where are you really from?

In 2018, Liang qualified for his first World Racewalking Championships – a position that allowed him to represent his Canadian nationality and visit his mother country of China. The competition is a symbolic extension of his identity that both brings him to and dialectically pushes him against his roots through a globalized competition. Liang competed against China (and the world) while representing Canada. 

Portrait of Shanghai is a visual documentation of an ephemeral experience that embodies the feeling of – being a foreigner, being at home, feeling close, and feeling distant. He explores identity, representation, and space in a globalized world – to be from Canada but not of Canada, and to be of China but not from China. Through the visceral quality of analog photography and street style, Liang documents the people and places of suburban and metropolitan Shanghai. A portrait is a representation. By exploring and observing the city, Liang captures a portrait of Shanghai and also his own portrait in the process.