Dorcas Tang's intimate audiovisual project centres Asian women's agency and desire
“I'm not interested in trying to justify my humanity to white men, this is for my community,” says the artist and photographer.
- Joey Levenson
- 16 May 2023
It’s not often that a project gives space and agency to Asian women and femmes when it comes to their erotic power. That’s where Dorcas Tang’s new project Love Me Long Time intervenes. The intimate audiovisual project explores desire, intimacy and Asian identity through portraits and interviews with Asian diasporic and Asian Australian women and non-binary individuals, allowing them all to share their own experiences in conversation. “While there are definitely Asian photographers who touch on themes of sex and desire, like Vivian Fu,” Dorcas tells It’s Nice That, “I think the way I approached it was different in that it centres conversations with people.” The project’s various iterations in exhibition spaces certainly facilitates this, but it’s the collaborators of the project (those being photographed) who really bring Love Me Long Time to life.
“The title itself references the line in Full Metal Jacket, where a Vietnamese prostitute says ‘Me so horny, me love you long time’,” Dorcas explains. “In this sense, the title redirects the subject/object, so rather than acting in service to others, it centres our desires and needs.” These portrait collaborators aren’t flattened tropes, but real, three-dimensional people with stories behind the photos. “I think photography, specifically my understanding and relationship to it, has been shaped by colonial violence, where the purpose of documentation is related to subjugation and control,” Dorcas tells us.
“So for Love Me Long Time, I've made real efforts to ensure that the people I photograph have full knowledge of what they're participating in, and have agency in how their images will be used, and to ensure that they can feel safe.” That’s evident in the layout of the project itself: the photos are a beautiful assembly, somewhat resembling a family photo album as opposed to a bog-standard traditional grid structure. “I wanted to avoid the grid-like sort of anthropological documentation,” Dorcas explains. “While Asian-ness is not a monolith and a contested umbrella identity, I wanted to give a visual nod to this community that we are all a part of with the family photo album style.”
Perhaps most poignant about the project is how Dorcas reflects on the integration of herself into the project. “I've tried to incorporate as much of myself as I am comfortable in the work,” she explains. “I've created the themes of discussion and formulated the questions, I'm the one transcribing and editing hours-long conversations into one to three minute snippets. My biases and my interests shape and inform what is eventually put out into the public.” Specifically, Dorcas reflects on her proximity to the topic at hand and those she is photographing and interviewing. In the essay that accompanies the Love Me Long Time publication, she writes “in an age when both attention and time are scarce, I offer to see/photograph and to hear/record the collaborators of Love Me Long Time. In the moments spent together, I give and receive the fickle gift of connection: I see you, I hear you and I love you.”
GalleryDorcas Tang: Love Me Long Time (Copyright © Dorcas Tang, 2023)
Dorcas Tang: Love Me Long Time (Copyright © Dorcas Tang, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.