In response to Sara Mei Herman’s ongoing project Touch, which started during an artist-in-residence at the Chinese European Art Center in Xiamen, China, she was approached by Jurek Wajdowicz, artist and Director of Graphic Design studio Emerson & Wajdowicz Studios (EWS), to produce an extensive photography project about the LGBTQ community in China.
In September 2019, Herman traveled to Xiamen. She portrayed fourteen young queer people (couples and singles). Apart from the photographs taken of the subjects and their personal surroundings, she also interviewed them about their life, love, and personal fears.
Because of the pandemic, Herman was unable to return to Xiamen. Two years after her trip to Xiamen, she decided to continue the project in the Netherlands, Germany, and Paris, photographing young Chinese people from the LGBTQ communities there. In total, she portrayed thirty-one people.
By the turn of the last millennium, same-sex relationships were once again legal, and by 2001, homosexuality had been declassified as a mental disorder. But the stigma against queer people still remains. Recent reports from China have noted government attempts to clamp down on LGBTQ media and events, and family members are still sending numerous citizens to conversion therapy.
Hardly any of the young people Herman photographed for this project can speak openly to their parents about their sexual preference or gender identity.
The book was published by The New Press in New York and released in December 2022.
Sarah Mei Herman has an MA in Photography from The Royal College of Art in London. Her work has been shown internationally at the National Portrait Gallery in London, Le Château d’Eau in Toulouse, and JIMEI X ARLES International Photo Festival in Xiamen, among others. In December 2022, Herman completed a commissioned photo book about the Chinese LGBTQ community. In October 2022, one of the portraits from Solace was shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize in London and was shortlisted for the Gomma Photography Grant 2022. It was awarded an honorable mention. In 2023, he was awarded the Grand Prix at Rovinj Photodays in Croatia.