Yuhan Cheng 程钰涵

Photo Series

Princess of Funan River is a semi-documentary project based on the observations of New York based photographer Yuhan Cheng‘s hometown Chengdu, a place in which they struggled to find a sense of belonging. In their own words, Chengdu permeates its complex cultural texture, embraced and incubated by the Funan River. Their experience growing up in Chengdu led to the realization of their sexual orientation, and thus a consciousness of queer identity. In this project, Yuhan documents the girls around them who possess different sexualities and self-identities. It gives birth to fluid identity construction in the process of socialization, just like the water in Funan River. Tides and floods, where the river crosses and flows; dynamic waterways are engaged by natural and manmade interference.

Yuhan Cheng I took a gap year in 2020 to go back home. It inspired me to create Princess of  Funan River. To me, this is a project about looking back and retrospection. I have included a variety of  locations in this project, from places that have been forgotten (Closed Underground Mall), places that have been abandoned (Lulu), places that are called home (Mom’s Quilt, Yujia), and places that I called home in the short-term (Zeqi, Didi).

Funan River 府南河

“I see the city in how I see them, I see them in how I see me”

Closed Underground Mall 关闭的地下商场

Closed Underground Mall 关闭的地下商场

Anqi and I wandered into this location by accident. However, I remember coming to this mall when I was younger and how crowded it used to be. It was in the centre of the city and I think it will soon be demolished.

Wu Yujia 吴雨佳

Wu Yujia 吴雨佳

Yujia’s mom practices Buddhism. I photographed Yujia in their family storage, which is also their studio when their mom is not home. There’s a big Guan Yin portrait and an album of  classical music in the back, a wooden statue that they use to hang their jewelry… I think this studio carries their personality and background as a whole. As someone who comes from a strict family, I think it is so brave that they wanted to do a nude portrait. It made me think about my relationship to my body and how I see it.

Lu lu 璐潞

Lulu 璐潞

We went inside these abandoned residential buildings that have been turned into a parking lot. Ruins remain; scratched paintings and dusty calendars are still hanging on the wall. These buildings have been standing still for years now yet once they’re gone, no one will remember that they were once here.

Zeqi Li 李泽淇

Zeqi Li 李泽淇

I visited both Zeqi and Didi’s apartments where they lived in the city. Due to family issues,  Zeqi chose to not live at home, instead renting an apartment. Zeqi was tired of how manipulative her parents were. 



Didi left her family as they did not support her as a trans woman, and she wanted to live by herself.  It was nice that they found a space in the city they could call home, even though they are not sure how long they will stay there.  

Mole 痣
Mom's Quilt 妈妈的被子

Mom’s Quilt 妈妈的被子

This is in my home, a place where I couldn’t feel a sense of belonging for a long time. Whenever I was home before, I would always lock myself up in my room. I actively widened the gap between myself and my family by refusing to communicate, yet this project made me think more about opening up by looking back.  

Without this “looking back” process, I perhaps would never have appreciated the beauty of the city and how my family connects me to who I was before today. Chengdu, a fastly growing city, has changed a lot since the time I grew up. I believe this has happened to most of the cities in China, yet it is still impactful and meaningful to us because these changes in Chengdu also changed the people that have been through such changes. This does not mean I romanticize the old and undeveloped Chengdu, but I certainly do miss it. Changes are necessary to welcome something new. People come and go as buildings are built and torn down. The man-made river, Funan, will eventually converge with the Yangtze River and to the sea. No water remains the same.


Yuhan Cheng

Special Thanks

Ding 盯


Zeqi Li 李泽琪

Yujia Wu 吴⾬佳

Lulu Yang 杨璐潞

Anqi Fan 范安琪

Ah-he 阿鹤

Chu Zhou 周楚

Xingyun Wang 王星蕴

Valerie Zhang

distance-l8 - 1920
distance-l7 - 1602
distance-l6 - 1568
distance-l5 - 1440
distance-l4 - 1325
distance-l3 - 1164
distance-l2 - 1080
distance-l1 - 1024
distance-s1 - 799
distance-s2 - 720
distance-s3 - 640
distance-s4 - 414
distance-s5 - 320