Ting-Ting Cheng, 'I am there, I am not there'

After her previous project ‘Reasons to Travel’, which explored the idea of travel and home, Ting-Ting Cheng became interested in the relationship between people and the spaces they occupy, how these influence and reflect our everyday life, especially the space we spend most of our time in – our home.

In the project, Cheng photographed domestic spaces from different houses where she has stayed or visited. Instead of the human figures of the residents, in the images, viewers can only see traces of them, evidence of their existence and clues reflecting who they are, triggering the viewers’ curiosity toward other people’s personal lives.

However, The authenticity of photography is being challenged and questioned here. In contemporary art, the boundaries and distinctions between documentary and studio photography are disappearing. From 1930, Bill Brandt was selecting locations and recruiting models to make pseudo-documentary scenes. Jeff Wall rebuilt a nightclub in his studio while Philip Lorca di-Corcia was shooting street portraits with all the artificial lighting, even without the sitters’ notice. The definition of reality in photography is changing; what we see is not necessarily to be believed. Reality depends on the perceived notion of what is real. Even the most natural-looking everyday life scenes can be staged.

Home, the most intimate space in our life, should reflect the occupants’ personalities and everyday routine. However, the objects in the images are the real belongings from the residents, while the arrangements are staged, indicating that even the most personal space can be deceiving. Photography is not a truth carrier – rather than a storyteller. It tells parts of the tenants’ life, while keeping the rest of it unknown. While viewers' curiosities are being triggered, wondering about who’s living here and what kind of life he/she has, at the same time, they are being fooled by photography and the artist. The pictures here are oscillating between real and fiction.

Cheng’s practice focuses on the relationship between objects, environments and people’s emotions toward them. Using a combination of images and text, she explores how they anchor and relate to each other. Ting-Ting Cheng was born in Taiwan and graduated from the MA Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster, London. She has exhibited and received a number of photography awards internationally, including New York, London and Berlin, along with her solo show in Budapest and the Taipei Fine Art Museum. Cheng’s works are prized by private collectors worldwide.

For more information, www.chengtingting.com