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Self-portrait, 2020

Leslie Shang Zhefeng has a longstanding fascination with the urbanization, demolition, and construction dynamics in Shanghai, widely regarded as symbolic of China’s developmental progress, as portrayed in the series Shanghai Scenery. Placing himself in various urban settings such as rented houses, buildings undergoing demolition, construction sites, towering skyscrapers, and bridges, he uses his own body as the main subject to establish temporary connections with the surrounding environment to emphasise identity formations, class distinctions, and survival conditions of individuals in the context of social and economic development.

In his more recent series Self-portrait, Leslie Shang Zhefeng explores intimate narratives allowing him to convey personal emotions and delve into themes of love, sensuality, and the interplay between individuals and the surrounding world. Leslie Shang Zhefeng’s photographic artistry transcends mere aesthetic judgments of the body, aiming to evoke deeper reflections on the interconnectedness of all things, the emotional tapestry of human experience, and the intricate fabric of societal relationships. The work stands as a testament to his dedication of exploring the multifaceted layers of contemporary existence.

Leslie Shang Zhefeng

Born in 1991 in Rural Shaanxi Province, China.
Currently lives and works in Shanghai, China.


Leslie Shang Zhefeng delves into substantial subjects in his work as a photographer, with a particular focus on environmental concerns, socio-political issues, and contemporary living and family. Through photography, he uncovers and portrays the formidable challenges facing present-day Chinese society, drawing illuminating comparisons with past generations. In his quest to gain deeper insights into the dynamics of contemporary family structures, Leslie Shang Zhefeng explores his own family’s archives, historical photographs, and VHS recordings, which he uses in his artistic research.

One distinctive facet of Zhefeng’s artistic endeavors is the medium of self-portraiture. His utilization of self-portraits as a means of exploration allows him to delve into the layers of his own identity, experience, and emotions, effectively offering a window into his personal narrative as he endeavors to gain a more profound understanding of contemporary China.

Follow Leslie Shang ZheFeng’s work via his Instagram.

Edited by Tofu Collective