young mormons in philadelphia?
By qi peng
3 Feb 2008
From 2001-2003, qi peng decided to examine the lives of young LDS members in their 20's who were not living in Utah, which is the typical habitat for Mormons. Apparently, he was surprised that the lives of these non-Utah Mormons were rather different than the typical conservative Utah Mormons who tended to be stereotyped by the general public. After shooting many rolls of film and eventually digital images, qi peng decided to edit and focus his attention on a series of photographs which would capture a broad spectrum of Mormon activities.
Apparently young Mormons on the East Coast seem to be less uptight and more liberal about their religious doctrine than those who simply have not left Utah. Many of the people who attended the singles ward in downtown Philadelphia tended to be displaced students from Utah or recent converts to the church.
qi peng spent much time among the Philadelphia members and discovered the wide variety of activities which the youthful singles participated in. Apparently various events ranged from crazy dances designed to pair up single people into potential dating relationships to Institute classes meant to further the spiritual education of the individuals. These "get-togethers" ultimately geared the people to help them attend the temple, which is a sacred building for fulfilling the highest ordinances of the Latter-Day Saints.
qi peng figured out how to control the mood by capturing the people in their decisive moments. The challenge of documenting the persons in their natural "habitats" while not projecting a doctrinal approach to the whole matter was tempered by an objective look at the diverse set of happenings which occurred inside the stake or ward building and outside.
qi peng did meet many new friends in the course of this project. Even though many of them have moved on to other places or a busy married life, the artist is grateful to have met such kind and often eccentric or creative people in a setting where the average American would not expect the Mormons to be at.
Who would have thought that the LDS young kids could have so much enjoyment from life no matter where they live? This essay shows that their lives are no different than those youth who relate to Catholicism, Protestantism, etc.
This short project is part of a larger and long-term conceptual photography catalogue for qi peng that was started in late 2007. The ultimate design is to act as an "autobiography" of emotions and executed ideas which are the result of forethought.