“After a performance during Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Arthub Asia and Chen Tong invited me to work for a month at their artist space in Guangzhou. I was hoping to gain access to rich party members through Chen Tong. I got invited to a lot of dinners but gained very little access so I ended up getting lost in Guangzhou a lot.
During my wandering, I stumbled upon the market area, where these androgynous boys were hanging stoically on their bikes and carts during endless traffic jams. I stayed to stare for weeks and they stared back. On first sight these big groups of boys seemed to have very individualised, unique styles and ideas about fashion—I think one article called them fashionistas. However, I realised after a while that these styles were actually very uniform—they were copying the styles of soap opera and television idols. I realised that their aspirations, dreams and images of what they would like to be are influenced by the same TV- and advertisement-generated images we see all over the world.
Parts of Rituals are staged and parts are shot en passant. I cast the staged aspects ofRituals like I would anywhere I am working on the street. The participants posed and sometimes felt awkward. They giggled a little during shooting and afterward we went to their favourite restaurant, which was McDonald’s. A lot of them have never been in a film before, but a lot of my western subjects have also never been in films before they work with me. The boys pretty much accepted my poses without questioning because these erotic gestures are so prevalent in advertisements. The erotic has been pulled out of the private or hidden sphere into the public sphere, which created a very powerful but completely non-sexual and not kinky erotic.” – JR