Unapologetic Selfhood with Matta Zheng

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12/03/2023

In a photo series titled “DESPERATE BELONGING,” one of the images features a figure in a qipao and black heels standing expressionless on the sidewalk of a wide street in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Their face is painted entirely white, their eyes colored with the same magenta pigment as their lips. Two elderly Asian women are passing on the figure’s right, gazing at the figure with wrinkled eyebrows. It is the height of the pandemic, and both women are wearing blue surgical masks that conceal their precise emotions: Are they angered by this figure’s presence? Confused? Frightened? The figure in the photo series is Matta Zheng, also known by their drag artist name, Oblong Oriental (长方东方). Currently, Zheng is a second-year student at the Harvard Divinity School and a queer spiritual adviser at the Office of BGLTQ Student Life.

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