Great Love – Victory!
Oil on canvas
115 x 182.5 cm
Great Love – Victory!
Oil on canvas
115 x 182.5 cm
Sophie Chang, born in Taiwan. She works and lives in Taipei.
Sophie Chang’s profound, artistic style has evolved from many years of meditation. This meditative process has focused her mind on nature and manifested in her unique ‘inner landscapes’.
By making the Great Love series, what kind of message were you trying to convey, regarding borders such as class, race, gender and religion?
I can only speak according to my personal view, as I do not think I am capable of representing the whole world. Even though from a religious angle, we should be equal, in practice there are not as ideal. Nevertheless, if we believe in equality, we should respect everyone regardless of their race and class. We are all humans.
Has the pandemic influenced your art-making?
During the pandemic, I was in self-isolation. Now I think of it, different regions have reacted differently. Many countries in the West were not used to wearing masks, while in Taiwan we wear masks and minimised the spread. Even so, we show respect to the different regions. During self-isolation, my life became simpler, and we reduced direct contact related charity activities because we also need to protect the volunteers. The pandemic will change and is changing the world and people. It let people more worry about self and surroundings. It was also war, as it is a punishment from the almighty.
As a well-known philanthropist, what is your aim and how do you express the charitable spirit through your visual work?
I never thought myself as a philanthropist, because when I was outside communicating with people, I was not helping, instead, it was the other’s experience helped us to learn that different people in a different environment, are having different feelings. We are blessed and feel grateful for what we have. I have always felt happy and positive in making art because I know the collector will have them, and therefore I put a lot of blessing and love in my art, hoping when they view the work, they will be delighted. Consciously and subconsciously, I still hope my little love can bring happiness to people, even though it is not as big as the religious love.
As a Chinese, do you think the ecology of contemporary art is related to your cultural identity?
I do not contact the art world that much but did view a great many artworks by the other people all over the world. Despite that, I was deeply educated by traditional Chinese culture, especially Confucianism and Buddhism. Therefore my ideas will get into my work through my hands, and Chinese culture is evidently seen. Nevertheless, I feel being an artist is a pure experience, my Chinese identity is one aspect, and the most essential thing is being a pure artist.
How has the pandemic influenced you, and what is your vision for the future?
It is hard to describe how exactly pandemic influenced me. But what I can say is that we will be more cautious. The world will treat the invisible virus as an enemy, while we will be careful treating each other. I will be more peaceful in making art, whilst in the past, I was more irritable. The one whose heart is full of love, should be confident and treat people equally.
Ink on silk
90 x 110 cm
Shoran Jiang is an artist specialized in Chinese painting and Chinese Calligraphy. She began to learn Chinese painting and Chinese Calligraphy when very young. After studied Chinese painting for six years in Nankai University, then she came to the UK to study fine art in Chelsea College of Design and Art. Now she also devotes her time to art education and art publication.
When you created Destiny, what do you personally make of borders in our civilisations such as class, race, gender, belief, nation?
Borders appear in many places, and because of them, there are nations and people, especially various individuals. Every individual is different, and due to the variety and dynamism of the individual, this world has become so interesting.
However, as human beings, apart from those borders, we share the same nature or property, for example, no one can escape “Destiny”.
Do you think there are new possibilities in abstract art and ink painting, and what is the particular area that you try to breakthrough?
Ink is only a medium of creativity, and abstract art is a way of expression. To be honest, many forerunners had explored so many possibilities, so that if there is any particular area to work on, I think it is to relate art with the “present”, expressing the “current” feelings.
Under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is reshaping, in this case, can you talk about how is the artwork made before the pandemic related to the Post-COVID Era?
Before the pandemic, the world was shaped mainly through connection, however, due to the rapid spread of COVID, we are forced to obey social distancing rules. I was surprised to witness that in my life, within a deeply globalised milieu, the disconnection of borders of countries is happening. Isn’t this what Laozi said: “And even though the next country is so close that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking, they are content to die of old age without ever having gone to see it”?
After the spread of the pandemic, a lot of places have decreed lockdown and many galleries and museums have been forced to suspend operating. Thereafter, people are not able to appreciate and enjoy art at an intimate distance. Exhibitions are converted to the online format. How to present art and express ideas and emotions has turned out to be urgent and practical matter in making art.
Regardless of the Pre or Post COVID era, art-making has always been expressed from the inside to the outside for artists. The pandemic has made me feel more deeply that when humans confronting destiny, how fragile and uncertain life is.
As a UK based Chinese, do you thin your identity is somehow related to the ecology of art?
The materials that I use are very Chinese, for instance, ink, brush and silk, and I feel they are part of my identity. I was born and raised in China and formed my way of thinking by Chinese education, it is also part of my identity. The longer that I live in the UK, the more I love Chinese culture, which defines who I am.
Contemporary art is about expression, about how to express, through what and with what content to express. The materials that I use is my identity, nevertheless, no matter what materials I use, as long as the artwork contains good ideas, and can convey the message with which the audience can more or less feel and understand, that is good enough.
How has the pandemic influenced you, and what do you make of the ideal future art-making and exhibitions?
The most inconvenient part is the physical relocation–we cannot return to China, and practically cannot go to any other place. I have profoundly realised the hopelessness and fragility of human beings.
Of course, it also enables me to think about alternative ways to present my art.
I think in the future, the online and offline exhibitions will occur simultaneously, and they will supplement each other, perhaps, the online exhibition will become an independent way of exhibiting. Due to the changes in exhibition methods, art-making will adapt accordingly. There will be artists who would like to explore how to suitably express and present art exclusively online.
Traces of Ebony
Mixed Media Archival Pigment Print
Approximately 4 1/4″ × 3 1/2″
Julisiah Toney obtained a BFA at Savannah College of Art and Design, major in Photography, and minor in Business and Entrepreneurship. A Chicago native, she feels most at home in the city and is currently located in Atlanta. She loves to create using her hands (i.e. collage, mixed media, and alternative photography), but also is skilled in computers arts as well, incorporating Photoshop and other programs to enhance her craft. Most her of her work is introspective, but she uses this theme to create connections to women of color. She works freelance, plans on becoming an educator and ultimately own a gallery that supports and focuses on the works of people of color.
From Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair (2009) to Solange’s song Don’t Touch My Hair (2016), we understand that hair for the Black community is more than just appearance. It is a multi-million-dollar industry, a struggle in disrupting euro-centric beauty standards, as well as a declaration of self-loving pride. Your work, Traces of Ebony (2017), tells a similar story, can you tell us how this project come about? What were the materials that you used in these works, was it a complicated process?
The origins of my work have always been self-rooted. I was and continue to question why and how I move through the world the way I do, and being a Black woman is the foundation. I didn’t grow up around seeing many women or peers with the same kinky curly hair as mine, that comfortably and confidently wore their hair naturally. I did not begin to dissect why I didn’t feel comfortable wearing my hair in its natural state until I moved Atlanta. Here all of my friends wore their natural hair, and I began to notice and admire their confidence. As I tried to come up with the roots of why I felt I couldn’t be as confident as my friends were in their natural state, I thought of my experiences growing up and wanted to blame it on my ignorance. However, I was influenced to dig deeper, because that mindset I had come to adopt, had to come from somewhere as well.
Looking at media, ads, and other dominant portrayals of beauty, it is easy to see that black women aren’t shown as the most desirable. Being a young Black woman trying to figure out this influence of lack of self-love for my hair, I soon realized it was due to comparison to White/Euro beauty ideals, not on a conscience level, but one that was subconsciously rooted over my lifetime then.
As I was exploring how to portray my new-found dignity, I began adhering hair to portraits of Black women. While further exploring this process. My attention was brought to a “custom” or trend as we may call it today, from the Victorian era called carte de visites. These were small calling cards that people would share and became in circulation in Europe and the United States. As you can image people in these photographs portrayed the ideal beauty standards at the time. Taking the trend a step further, women started to adhere hair to their calling cards. Carte de visites in this fashion with black women’s hair was not seen. After discovering this historical trend and realizing that this was one of the roots to the lack of black beauty portrayals, I decided to remake this trend to include black women to celebrate our beauty and especially our hair. The style, tone, hand colored portions as well as the hair adhered to the portraits of my friends, are to evoke the memory of black women from that time. To remember that their presence and beauty existed, and that it still exists today.
In contemporary art photography, we are seeing a rise in the portrays of bodies of colors; how do you understand this phenomenon? Why is it important for people of color to be shown through the lens of art photography?
Touching back on the point of the start of the carte de vistes, photography has had a hand in shaping our lives in society. When photography began to be redistributed and became representative of portrayals of idealism, you can see that Black bodies and bodies of color have been misrepresented as well as under-represented. Although the concept of equality should be easy to grasp as a human right, that right has been withheld from people of color over the course of history. I think photography as well as other media is a tool to relay messages to people. Therefor the rise in the portrayal of bodies of color is to show their existence, show their experiences, show their ideals of beauty, and anything else that is true to them; To no longer be seen through a White/Euro gaze then regurgitated as truth.
During this pandemic, have you able to produce any new work? What have you learned, as an artist, to face a global epidemic like this?
Interestingly enough, this pandemic has caused me to be able to begin creating work again. As the pandemic progressed, and things became more out of my control, I found time as well as a will to create, without having a clear goal or message prior. I’m still not sure what to make of, or what the project I created during this time is saying, but I’m ok with that right now. For me as an artist, this time has shown me that you might not know how or why you are creating something at the time, but this is ok. Life has a way of taking you out of your comfort zone either way, so just do what you can in the moment.
In the wake of Gorge Floyd’s death, most non-Black Americans have finally joined the Black Lives Matter movement to demand justices and defeat systematic racism. As an artist of color, how does this rise of BLM movement nationally, even globally, affect your art practice?
Honestly it doesn’t really change much for me and the work that I do or will do. I hope that people continue to fight and seek justice for the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the heart-breaking number of Black women and men who have lost their lives as a result of systemic racism, and not let the cycle continue and begin to undo it.
I hope my work can aid in the true and positive representation of Black women, and ultimately spark a change in mindset to those who don’t know of the Black experience, and/or have been given a false and warped depiction of what it is to be Black.
The Sculpture of David was destroyed in the square
Siyuan Tan was born in Fuxin, China, in 1984, and graduated with an MFA in sculpture from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, in 2018. Tan’s work not only showcases a skillful artisanship, at the same time, reflects humorous and nearly sarcastic wisdom in his play with sociopolitical and cultural icons and significances from both the East and the West.
Your work The Sculpture of David Was Destroyed in The Square (2019) resembles a lot to the recent vandalism of confederate statues across America in the wake of Gorge Floyd’s death. What was your original inspiration for creating this piece, and what is your understanding of destruction in arts?
Let’s talk about the initial inspiration for this piece. A while back when I was looking through photos taken during my childhood and family travels, I noticed that in almost every photo of the sculptures in these sites had been vandalized or defaced. There would me messages written on the surface of the sculptures like “so-and-so visited here, so-and-so I love you and so on.” Then I learned from the older generation’s memories and some history books about the destruction of cultural relics during the Cultural Revolution, where people went crazy over ancient sculptures and architectures. During my travels to Europe that I also saw a lot of graffiti and damage flooding the classical sculptures. This act of taking out national consciousness, political ideas, and personal emotions on inanimate materials created an interest in my research. I wondered what it was that made a group of people develop some kind of intense emotions towards simply processed stones, woods, steels, and concretes, to the extent that they have to be removed and overturned. You see some people now in America, Black or white, demanding the removal of confederate statues. As an Asian person and a foreigner, it is really not my place to have an opinion. However, if a part of dark history is being glorified through the medium of sculptures and revokes the pain of the victims, then the sculpture is unquestionably problematic.
Secondly, I would like to talk about my understanding of art being destroyed. I think that any work of art will eventually be destroyed, even if there is no human involvement, the erosion of time will eventually destroy them. The classics that we can still appreciate today carry so much meaning and special emotion that we try our best to preserve them. Though, there can be so many unpredictable variations that any changes can put the work at high risk. At the same time, I also think these works can be resilient if they have already survived hundreds of years.
I understand that you were trained in traditional sculptural practice, what is your understanding of the different styles in sculptures between the West and the East?
Yes, I was trained in very traditional Western classical realist sculpture. However, the interesting thing is that this long training was done in China.
In contemporary understanding, Eastern sculpture is mainly characterized as impressionistic, while Western sculpture is mainly about realism. In the primitive period, however, the characteristics of Eastern and Western sculpture were not very different and there were many similarities. The formal differentiation should have occurred at the end of the Warring States period, the beginning of the Qin Dynasty, while the West should have been at the end of the Classical period, the beginning of the Hellenistic period. (Around 300 B.C.) Of course, the styles of Eastern and Western sculpture were influenced by geography, ethnicity, politics, economics, and warfare. I believe we have to also consider the two civilizations of farming and maritime — the more mature they become, the more prominent they are in their art.
As an Asian artist living and working in America, what is the biggest challenge in your artistic endeavor?
I think the biggest challenge would be to find my self-identity. In fact, the way I was trained as a child to observe, to draw, and to understand art are all based on Western aesthetic standards. It controlled my aesthetics, trapped my way of thinking, and limited my interest in other art forms. This pattern of education led me to focus, even admire solely, the masterpieces of Western art history. My upbringing, however, was entirely in the East, which led to a lack of understanding not only of my own country’s art history, but also of Eastern art as a whole. I had a great deal of distrust and skepticism in my artwork. It was only after I came to the United States that I realized the impact of the long “colonization” of art education on me. I have lost sight of the essence of my own culture and have lost the ability to judge different cultures.
In the last two years, there have been many rebellious and destructive elements in my work, which is my instinct from within and also my subjective will. The intent was not only to have the intention of breaking the long-standing control of basic aesthetic education over my thoughts, but also to re-examine my cultural origins and to seek self-identification. So, you can see in David, I not only wanted to smash the classics of Western culture, which are fed by the capitalist aristocracy, I also used the graffiti to vandalize the surface. I feel as if I were a blue-collar worker, I want to use these cheap, convenient industrial products that are also the source of the blood and sweat that these capitalists are extracting from us, as a weapon to fight back.
We see a trend in the globalization of arts, as a transcultural artist, what could be your biggest concern?
I think every artist has a lot of concerns in this globalizing world, but I think multiple sources of information can be a supply to the creative process. I used to be interested in the changes in international relations, especially the political trends between China and the United States in recent years, as well as network information security, high technology products and so on. Of course, as a minority living in the United States, racism is still the biggest issue.
But after this epidemic, my biggest concern is my health.
During this pandemic, have you been experimenting with new methods in making art? Can you talk about a little bit about your recent paper-based work?
Yes, during this epidemic I experimented with many creative methods. Because of the space limitations, my first phase was mainly acrylic paintings on canvas in small sizes. In the second phase, I switched to paper and started experimenting with watercolor and paper. I’ve also started learning how to make sculptures on the computer and hope to print them out when the epidemic situation gets better.
In addition, the core idea of these recent works on paper is still based on the research direction of “the connection between real space and imaginary space”. My previous thinking in this regard was concretized in the connection between human social life and virtual networks. But the epidemic has forced me to isolate myself, and while living in a limited space, far away from the social world. Connecting to the outside world, an important aspect of my work, has become a luxury. I had to re-examine my relationship with the outside world and where the work was heading next.
I read a number of books on the relationship between inside and outside, on energy transitions, and one of them was on East Asian shamanic culture. It claims that people have an energy called “灵(spirit).” This energy cannot be seen or touched, but it is present in the body. The shaman can perform rituals to cause the “spirit” to be transferred to other living beings to receive warnings and wisdom from nature. And as a Manchu living in Northeast Asia, I saw these shamans at a very young age through their dancing rituals. These new realizations, that are related to my memories and identity, opened up new avenues for my research. Therefore, I began to look for ways to represent the spirits by using colors. At first, I used basic warm and cold contrasts to distinguish between the two energies of real and imaginary. Then I discovered a principle and instrument for thermal imaging, so I started to experiment a lot with these contrasting. Also experimenting complementary warm and cold colors to represent the visual state of the two energies when they meet. In all the images, which are related to life, I cut out specific tissues and organs, except for the eyes. Because the eyes are an important means of psychic energy in shamanic rituals, and also, the eyes are a very significant for East Asians. The special treatment of the eyes is in fact my way of expressing my identity.
Pierre Alivon/苏善书 is French photographer, sculptor and art curator in Beijing. Pierre makes a new adventure of each exhibition that transports you into asserted universes, while establishing a bridge between his / our French sensibility and contemporary Chinese culture.
As an international artist, how do you make of the borders such as nation, race, gender, class and so forth?
I am not interested in race, gender and social class. For me, the influence of a country is not politics but the people who live in that country. What is interesting is to understand the artistic springs mixed with the culture of the country. The only border that can exist is the formalization of the emotions of human beings which are identical but formalize in another way. When you are an international artist it is to find a universal language for all cultures where the cultural reference of your own country becomes universal for mutual understanding. What interests me is to show the different facets of the human being through their emotions, we have a face for our friends, a face for our family, a face for each situation in our life, and we also have a face for ourselves and this is what interests me. My last photographic work which took me more than four years to realize it in Beijing, I named it “Opera of Silence”. More than 100 people met make up this series of photographic creations, a unique testimony behind the walls of the houses. Opéra du Silence invites us to discover the facade behind which some young Chinese people protect themselves. They do not let anything show through their interior life but have difficult lives and are often very alone. As in the traditional Peking Opera, the characters are exclusively male. By making up with traditional masks from this Opera, I wanted to express what I felt at their contact and show how much I was touched by the courage and determination of these boys. This photographic adventure allowed me to see the courage in the daily lives of these boys and to be touched to the heart just as much as they were.
During the pandemic in Beijing, have your artistic intention changed alongside the attitude of society to the global situation?
At the start of the pandemic, the international media had more economic than a human perspective. My gaze changed during this period, I wanted to express more solidarity. When the epidemic started in China I continued to take photographs daily to show the evolution of life in Beijing, as I have been doing since my arrival in 2015. I experienced these first difficult moments; with admiration, I met ordinary people who have transformed themselves into extraordinary people to help the community: health workers, transport staff, police and many others. All of them have found energy and a positive force in them, energy which is evoked by the dragon, symbol of universal force. But when we saw on television certain reports showing businessmen worried about their loss of turnover, I found that inappropriate compared to all these heroes who earn very little but who gave everything for all of us. In situations of crisis that we discover ordinary people revealing their generosity and other people revealing their selfishness. At the same time during the confinement, I made a sculpture called Dragon which is on the theme of global solidarity. My inspiration comes from a short but powerful voice of world leaders: “We are at war” In order to fight the epidemic, everyone has become a soldier. My sculpture “Dragon” is a dialogue around courage, dignity and human emotions of the peoples of the world. We must all feel responsible, caring and determined, which will give us the courage to face this difficult event together. We need a universal brotherhood. All the citizens of the world become soldiers to fight the epidemic. The first to fight it is the Chinese. The figure in the statue listens to music while looking at the sky and dreams of kissing his parents, pampering his children, living poetic moments with friends. He thinks of a world of solidarity that will be a victory not only against the epidemic but against all future crises that could assail humanity in the 21st century.
Photography has 150-year history already, and do you think it has the creative potential, and in which direction you tried to achieve by taking photographs?
We are in a world of image and technological performance, photography is an infinite creative medium as long as the human being has the capacity for imagination. The plastic aspect of photography evolves with technological evolution which opens up its tremendous creative potential. I belong to this family of intuitive and sensitive photography, which does not show the world as it is, but as we feel it. Also in the images of Beijing that I deliver as well as in my sculptures, there is an intention of testimony, a documentary intention of human emotions. I never stop on the surface of things, I hope to train the viewer to see beyond my artistic work and ourselves. I tell a human story on the back of my own story. With my Leica M, I’m in the scene, I hear the breath and the human heart. To sum up, I would quote Robert Capa: “If your photos are not good enough, it is because you are not close enough”. Here is a photographic story that expresses the feeling of loneliness that millions of people experienced during confinement. This report taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to understand the importance of loving others … Memories of Silence In recent months, loneliness is a silence that settles around us during the pandemic, it has always been present in our contemporary society despite all the means of communication we have, especially in big cities like Beijing. Today’s forms of housing no longer allow the gathering of individuals for more socialization. Time management becomes essential and people no longer take the time for free discussion. Architecture, family, transport, communication, mass media, … a whole that, instead of provoking encounters, makes people lonely. During this pandemic, we all felt the silence that settled around from the U.S. This experience, supported by millions of people, can allow us to realize the importance of human contact. Loneliness can take different forms in big cities. It can be isolation. This is the case, for example, for immigrants or newcomers, who find it difficult to join a group. Suffering can also appear as a form of loneliness. We share the joy, the happiness, rarely the suffering of being alone. During this global pandemic, because it is collective, people have shared this suffering for the first time. This photographic report shows the memory of silence in Beijing during the epidemic. Loneliness in its etymology is: “the state of a deserted place” which takes all its meaning during the month of February 2020 in Beijing. Loneliness is a way of becoming aware of oneself and therefore of the relation to others. is a way to discover his inner self, his interiority, his uniqueness. I have hope that in the future each individual does not forget the importance of friendship and solidarity which are the true richness of life.
Which role do you recognise yourself in the contemporary globalised society, and can you talk about your ideal art ecology?
Recycling, recovery, “zero waste” … These are terms that we see more and more appear in everyday language, given that the health of the planet is very worrying. The artists are aware of the problems of overconsumption, which leads them to recover objects and materials to give them a second life. They are called recuperative artists. We forget that ecology is about living things as a whole, not just the human environment. For me if human beings accept to coexist with different cultures and to respect themselves, they will preserve nature because if they do not respect themselves how can they respect their environment? I try through my photographic work plastic and sculptor to awaken the universal feelings of each human being, which shows that the others are not that different, the epidemic has shown that all the people lived the same emotions even if the religions, cultures, policies of the countries are different. By respecting others, the borders of countries disappear. My ecological artistic approach is that it takes a new vision of others through mutual understanding to respect our planet.
Do you think the post COVID era would be different and will it influence your art-making?
This experience that everyone has lived will obviously have an impact on my next artistic works. I do not yet know how it will formalize but what I do know is that there will always be a relationship with solidarity.
En tant qu’artiste international, comment faites-vous des frontières telles que la nation, la race, le sexe, la classe et ainsi de suite?
Je ne m’intéresse pas à la race , le sexe et à la classe sociale . Pour moi le rayonnement d’un pays n’est pas la politique mais les personnes qui vivent dans ce pays . Ce qui est intéressant c’est de comprendre les ressorts artistiques mêlés à la culture du pays . La seule frontière qui peut exister c’est la formalisation des émotions des êtres humains qui sont identiques mais se formalisent d’une autre façon. Quand on est artiste international c’est trouver une langue universelle pour toutes les cultures où la référence culturelle de son propre pays devient universelle pour une compréhension mutuelle.
Ce qui m’intéresse c’est montrer les différentes facettes de l’être humain à travers leurs émotions , nous avons un visage pour nos amis, un visage pour notre famille, un visage pour chaque situation de notre vie ,et nous avons aussi un visage pour nous-mêmes et c’est celui-ci qui m’intéresse. Mon dernier travail photographique qui m’a pris plus de quatre ans pour le réaliser à Pékin, je l’ai nommé « Opéra du Silence ». Ce sont plus de 100 personnes rencontrées qui composent cette série de création photographique, un témoignage unique derrière les murs des maisons.
Opéra du Silence nous invite à découvrir la façade derrière laquelle se protègent certains jeunes Chinois. Ils ne laissent rien transparaître de leur vie intérieure mais ont des existences difficiles et sont souvent très seuls. Comme dans l’Opéra de Pékin traditionnel les personnages sont exclusivement masculins.
En les maquillant avec des masques traditionnels issus de cet Opéra, j’ai voulu exprimer ce que j’ai ressenti à leur contact et montrer combien j’ai été touché par le courage et la détermination de ces garçons. Cette aventure photographique m’a permis de voir le courage au quotidien de ces garçons et d’être, tout autant qu’eux, touché au coeur.
Pendant la pandémie de Pékin, votre intention artistique a-t-elle changé parallèlement à l’attitude de la société face à la situation mondiale ?
Au début de la pandémie les media internationaux avaient un regard plus économique que humain. Mon regard a changé pendant cette période, j’ai voulu exprimer plus de solidarité. Lorsque l’épidémie a commencé en Chine j’ai continué à faire des photographies quotidiennement pour montrer l’évolution de la vie à Pékin, comme je le fais depuis mon arrivée en 2015. J’ai vécu ces premiers moments difficiles; avec admiration j’ai rencontré des personnes ordinaires qui se sont transformées en personne extraordinaire pour aider la collectivité : personnel de santé, de transport, police et bien d’autres. Tous ont trouvé l’énergie et une force positive en eux, énergie qui est évoquée par le dragon, symbole de la force universelle.
Mais quand on voyait à la télévision certains reportages montrant des hommes d’affaires inquiets de leur perte de chiffre d’affaires, je trouvais cela déplacé par rapport à tous ces héros qui gagnent très peu mais qui ont tout donné pour nous tous. Dans des situations de crise qu’on découvre des personnes ordinaires révélant leur générosité et d’autres personnes révélant leur égoïsme.
Parallèlement pendant le confinement j’ai réalisé une sculpture qui s’appelle Dragon qui est sur le thème de la solidarité mondiale. Mon inspiration vient d’une voix courte mais puissante des leaders mondiaux:” Nous sommes en guerre » Afin de combattre l’épidémie, tout le monde est devenu des soldats.
Ma sculpture « Dragon » est un dialogue autour du courage, de la dignité et des émotions humaines des peuples du monde. Nous devons tous nous sentir responsables, attentionnés et déterminés, ce qui nous donnera le courage d’affronter tous ensemble cette événement difficile. Nous avons besoin d’une fraternité universelle. Tous les citoyens du monde deviennent des soldats pour combattre l’épidémie. Les premiers à l’avoir combattue sont les chinois.
Le personnage de la statue écoute de la musique en regardant le ciel et rêve d’embrasser ses parents, de choyer ses enfants, de vivre des moments poétiques avec des amis. Il pense à un monde solidaire qui sera une victoire non seulement contre l’épidémie, mais contre toutes les futures crises qui pourraient assaillir l’humanité au XXIe siècle.
la photographie a déjà 150 ans d’histoire, et pensez-vous qu’elle a le potentiel créatif, et dans quelle direction vous avez essayé d’atteindre en prenant des photos?
Nous sommes dans un monde d’image et de performance technologique, la photographie est un media créatif infini tant que l’être humain a la capacité d’imagination. L’aspect plastique de la photographie évolue avec l’évolution technologique qui ouvre son formidable potentiel créatif.
J’appartiens à cette famille de la photographie intuitive et sensible, qui ne montre pas le monde tel qu’il est, mais tel qu’on le ressent. Aussi dans les images de Pékin que je livre ainsi que dans mes sculptures, il y a une intention de témoignage, une intention documentaire des émotions humaines.
Je ne m’arrête jamais à la surface des choses, j’espère entraîner le spectateur à voir au-delà de mon travail artistique et de nous-mêmes. Je raconte une histoire humaine à revers de ma propre histoire. Avec mon Leica M je suis dans la scène , j’entends la respiration et le coeur humain. Pour résumer je citerais Robert Capa : « Si vos photos ne sont pas assez bonnes, c’est que vous n’êtes pas assez proches ».
Voici une histoire photographique qui exprime le sentiment de solitude que des millions de personnes ont vécus pendant le confinement. Ce reportage m’a appris beaucoup sur moi-même et m’a permis de comprendre l’importance d’aimer les autres… Souvenir du Silence
Ces derniers mois, la solitude est un silence qui s’installe autour de nous pendant la pandémie , elle a toujours été présente dans notre société contemporaine malgré tous les moyens de communication dont nous pouvons disposer, particulièrement dans les grandes villes comme Pékin .
Les formes d’habitat d’aujourd’hui ne permettent plus le rassemblement des individus pour plus de sociabilisation. La gestion du temps devient primordiale et les personnes ne prennent plus le temps de ladiscussion gratuite. L’architecture, la famille, les transports, la communication, les mass médias, … tout un ensemble qui, au lieu de susciter la rencontre, rend l’homme plus seul. Durant cette pandémie nous avons tous ressenti ce silence qui s’installe autour de nous. Cette expérience supportée par des millions de personnes peut nous permettre de réaliser l’importance du contact humain. La solitude peut prendre différentes formes dans les grandes villes. Elle peut être un isolement. C’est le cas, par exemple, pour les immigrants ou les nouveaux venus, qui ont du mal à intégrer un groupe. La souffrance peut apparaître également comme une forme de solitude. Nous partageons la joie, le bonheur, rarement la souffrance d’être seul. Pendant cette pandémie mondiale, du fait qu’elle soit collective, les personnes ont pour une première fois partagé cette souffrance. Ce reportage photographique montre la mémoire du silence à Pékin pendant l’épidémie. La solitude dans son étymologie est : “l’état d’un lieu désert » qui prend tout son sens pendant le mois de février 2020 à Pékin. La solitude est une manière de prendre conscience de soi et donc du rapport aux autres. C’est un moyen de découvrir son moi profond, son intériorité, son unicité. J’ai l’espoir que dans le futur chaque individu n’oublie pas l’importance de l’amitié et de la solidarité qui sont la vraie richesse de la vie.
Quel rôle vous reconnaissez-vous dans la société globalisée contemporaine, et pouvez-vous parler de votre écologie artistique idéale?
Recyclage, récupération, «zéro déchet»… Voilà des termes qu’on voit de plus en plus apparaître dans le langage de tous les jours, étant donné que la santé de la planète est très préoccupante.
Les artistes prennent conscience des problèmes de surconsommation, ce qui les amène à récupérer des objets et matériaux pour leur offrir une seconde vie. On les appelle les artistes récupérateurs et récupératrices.
Nous oublions que l’écologie concerne les êtres vivants dans leur ensemble, et non seulement l’environnement humain.
Pour moi si les êtres humains acceptent de coexister avec différents cultures et de se respecter, ils préserveront la nature car si ils ne se respectent pas eux-mêmes comment peuvent-ils respecter leur environnement ? J’essaye par mon travail photographique plasticien et de sculpteur d’éveiller les sentiments universels de chaque être humain, qui montre que les autres ne sont pas si différents que cela, l’épidémie a montré que tous les peuple vivaient les même émotions même si les religions, cultures , politiques des pays sont différentes. En respectant les autres, les frontières des pays disparaissent. Mon approche artistique écologique est qu’il faut une nouvelle vision des autres par une compréhension mutuelle pour respecter notre planète .
Pensez-vous que l’ère post covid serait différente et va-t-elle influencer votre art?
Cette expérience que tout le monde a vécu aura évidemment un impact sur mes prochains travaux artistiques. Je ne sais pas encore comment cela ça va se formaliser mais ce que je sais c’est qu’il y aura toujours un rapport avec la solidarité.
Photography and Video
LJ Glanton is a multi-media artist based in New York City. As a young Black creative, LJ aims to use the medium of film and photography to restructure how the society typically views black bodies in media and placing black bodies in atypical spaces that are generally whitewashed. LJ aspires to use his creative language to fuse both protest and aesthetic stimulation to create “Visual Activism.”
Western art canon can be seen as a white dominating principle that does not necessarily highlight the Black experience. Your work, on the contrary, is all about the glory of Black bodies and the beauty of Blackness. Can I say that you use your own body as an instrument for making art? As a queer artist of color, why is it so important to emphasize the body?
After many years of struggling to find my confidence within my Blackness I realized the Black body in and of itself is art. The resilience of existence and consistency of excellence is sublime and needs to be seen as a work of art. I incorporate my own body into my work to show where and how Blackness over generations has arrived and continues to pioneer mainstream trends. As a queer Black individual, it’s important to emphasize the body because flesh in general should be relatable from race to race… but it’s not… and it’s because of a lack of knowledge and consistency of proper representation.
Black Lives Matter is considered as one of the largest movements in American history. It is not only domestic; the movement is also international. We are seeing changes happening in all industries, especially in the arts. What is your take on this movement? How does this movement inspire you as an artist?
I have been invigorated by this moment through being pressure cooked in the depression of it all. It’s been both devastating and inspiring to see such an influence worldwide. I feel that through these exposing times there’s a lot of self liberating happening especially with young Black creatives. We are no longer desiring to uphold our work within the rubrics of success from white institutions, rather, we are creating our own spaces and collaborating with other Black artists to prove to the world that we need nobody but ourselves. I am the most passionate, confident and grounded with my art right now.
I understand that besides photography, you also focus on videography/art film. You have an upcoming short film coming up, would you like to talk a little bit about this new project?
I am in the process of writing a docu-series to continue to educate and illuminate Black beauty. It will essentially delve into the very diverse and complex mindsets of young Black creatives and how we exceed the margins that society has put us in. It is the biggest project I have spearheaded, and I will be working with so many gifted artists to bring it to fruition. I want to diversify this series by rooting it in beauty. I plan to have it be part interview (group setting and one on one) as well as it being part performance. I want to shoot it almost in the way music videos are shot with elaborate sets and colorful lights to beautifully frame the beauty of these individuals. I plan to begin filming within the next two months.
We are seeing an unstoppable force for globalization, and it manifests significantly in its transculturalism. What is your take on the globalization of cultures? Do you have any thoughts on the concept of cultural appropriation?
I personally believe cultural crossover is an inevitable force. However, I believe that while cultures merge there needs to be boundaries set to maintain respect and eliminate stealing. We must remain rooted and educated in where things come from and put the people of those cultures front and center when we showcase these things instead of only showing whitewashed versions of things that are sacred to someone’s identity. Integrity.
Rongkai Li was born in Daliang mountains, near Shangri-la. He took photography as a career and worked more than a decade in Shanghai. He is interested in primitive mysticism and has endeavoured to use a surrealist approach for telling Chinese stories.
Does your Zen series reveal anything about borders, such as class, race, gender and religion?
First of all, the Zen series is based on traditional Chinese Buddhist philosophy, and it blended the surrealist technique as the formalist approach. Regarding the border of ideas, Zen cares more about the realm of personal life, reflecting the time lapses and disappearing life, rather than class, race, and gender. Buddhists hope to understand life and death, with which one can escape pains and sorrows. Zen tries to understand how to harmonised the relationship between the world and the individual from an innermost way. I hope to fuse borders to achieve new ways of expression.
Even though Zen series initiated before the occurrence of the pandemic, perhaps you had already sensed the world was reshaping, does it affect you in art-making?
I think humans can benefit from scientific advancement, however, we cannot rely on science as the only way to understand this world. We need to return to the beginning and remain pure to refresh our cognition. Adjusting our subjective way of thinking, with adapted attitude to the new world, we can gain new revelations, and this is the fundamental cause that drives me creating Zen series. I meditate that time means much more to human life than to inorganic substance, and the pandemic makes us clearer about the fragility of life and self. We should respect the world and its living beings more. This kind of respect is the highest value of humans, and that is what Zen is about.
What are the possibilities in photography? Which area that you want to make a breakthrough?
Photography is still full of possibilities. At present, so-called fashion photography did not progress much compared with the ones in the past few decades. I wish to rethink about it from its origin. Photography is an art that is based on an objective world, then expressed through the subjective view of the photographer. Conversely, creativity is limited by the medium, and artists are required to comply with the rules and then release the potential. Therefore a good photographer needs to have good taste. I think it can be a breakthrough if the methods of expression are highly compatible with the subjective ideal. Methods require good practice and good thinking requires artists’ taste. If the two can blend well, then the artwork can be ineffable and everlasting.
After the second world war, Pop art made mass-produced images parallel with the high art, and photography has been challenged by multi-media, easel painting and sculpture. Now short videos have gain popularity, do you think there are some traits photography should insist and some aspects need to adapt?
Admittedly, Pop art contributed to promoting photography, and it overthrew the hegemony of painting, unlimited the ways of expressing, essentially it is synthetic. However, as for me, form matters little insofar as the balance is concerned. By balance I mean art should not just about the surface, I am after the balance of the visual, considering the reception of the audience, not just artists’ catharsis. Indeed short videos are popular because humans can be satisfied by direct and simple delight. Short videos can fill human desires at a rapid speed. But I think photography will not be affected by it that much, because photography extends beyond the surface, it should be more insightful.
How has the pandemic affected you? Any wishful thinking about future art-making and exhibition?
The most influential aspect of the pandemic to me is that it made me humbler and respect life more. Art-making is a way for artists to express their feelings, and it is sublimated by the talent and understanding the society. It becomes apparent that online exhibition will be very popular, because it can address some issues in exhibiting art, such as rent for the actual space and fees. However, it would undermine the sense of the presence of art. As for still photographs, maybe complimentary videos and documents can help. I think to sum up the 5 interview questions, art-making primarily needs to move artists themselves, then to seek empathy of the audience, therefore we need to show respect and understanding about the individual as well as the other.
请问在创作 禅•悟 摄影系列的时候，你对世界上各种边界，比如阶级、种族、性别、信仰、民族等有没有什么个人的看法？
height may vary x 4.5 x 8.5 inch
Rodrigo Moreira is a Brazilian multidisciplinary artist creating poetic interventions on social issues that emerge in everyday life. His projects are related to systems of communication and how images and text can evoke and subvert certain ideologies. Appropriating elements from mass-communication such as advertising, graphic design, online archives, and newspapers, Moreira creates works in printmaking, urban intervention, video, and text. Moreira was a 2019 fellow of the AIM Program of The Bronx Museum.
Can you talk a little bit about the entire series of NSA (No Strings Attached)? How did it come about? What stage are you in in terms of the entirety of the series?
When applying to a visa before moving to the US, I was requested to provide a long list of documents and personal information during the process, with absolutely no guarantee of acceptance. It was interesting to see how much data the government was holding about me, even during the earlier stages when I was applying for a tourist visa and later on for permanent residency. I took that opportunity to create a fictional relationship imaging a supposed government officer collecting information about me, as I was developing this one-sided romantic relationship.
In many ways, immigration for me is like a romantic relationship, as in both situations you have to deal with boundaries, control, fantasy, and expectations. I was also interested in understanding the nature of this relationship. Taking in consideration the lack of commitment, transparency and complicity from both sides, I can only think of something like ‘no strings attached’. The NSA acronym also refers to National Security Agency, which brings a political dimension into the equation.
So, for the NSA series I’ve been creating works related to both personal and political aspects of immigration in a variety of mediums including printmaking, installation, video, web-based projects, and photography.
I’ve seen it as an ongoing project, as it is really linked to my identity as an immigrant living in the US and how I relate to a different culture.
Pile (NSA)is made of forms of original US Customs and Border Protection survey. How did you gain access to these forms, and why are they crucial to this piece?
Pile is an installation composed by a stack of the original US Customs and Border Protection survey from floor to ceiling. The survey was originally handed out on planes getting into the US and at the airport. Everytime entering the country, I would keep some copies with me.
For the installation, I reproduce its content and layout in order to have as many copies as necessary to create the pile. In the gallery context, it becomes a column that supports the building structure as a visual metaphor for immigration.
You are originally from Brazil, but now living and working in New York City. What have you learned, as an artist, from this transcultural and transnational experience?
It is interesting having different perspectives of the art world in Brazil and the US, how organizations work and possibilities to make your practice active and visible. I am highly motivated by what is happening around me from a social and political perspective and both countries have so much going on, so much inspiration and rich cultural lives. It is a great position to be as an artist and being able to join the conversation making work about difficult and urgent topics. As an immigrant artist, I feel like I need to combine both experiences to find a middle ground where I feel more comfortable.
Facing the global pandemic, how do you understand the new normal? How will you incorporate your art-making into this adjustment to a brand new world?
I hope we can keep the slow pace and put in place more cooperative political practices. If anything, this time has forced us to think about speed, space, and relationships. We will need to rethink how we relate to public spaces, mobility and interactions.
Oil on canvas
50 x 40cm
Peng Siwas born in Hunan, China, and studied at the Central Academy of Art. He is a figurative painter who sought to combine ancient Chinese images with classical temperament. He continues to explore the possibilities of portraiture.
Q1: To what extent are your recent works different from your previous ones?
A1: Recently I focussed on facial features, which is a closeup view of my past portrait. Regarding forms, the element of uncertainty became apparent, however, my idea is still evolving in the process, which corresponds with the status of my recent work.
Q2: Can you talk about how the pandemic affected your art-making and life?
A2: Because of the pandemic I profoundly re-examined the problems in my life and art-making: significantly losing focus. Also because of the pandemic, I underwent self-isolation in Beijing, adjusting the balance between life and work, and the result turns out to be great. It has improved the realisation of my current paintings.
Q3: American scholar Richard Vinograd in discussing ancient Chinese portraiture used the term “the boundary of the self”, do you think your portraits entered some sort of boundaries?
A3: Yes, I somehow can feel a complicated and careful selective process. For example, sometimes within a glance, I would know what to depict. What is my first sight impulse? Even Though I do not have a clear demand, but some of the figures (for instance, the elders) are ruled out by me subjectively. I wonder if this can be called “the boundary of the self”. Meanwhile, I am not definitely certain that I can recognise my boundary in art-making immediately, but looking forward to its self-growth.
Q4: Could you talk about the advantage and disadvantage of presenting your works online?
A4L I personally think there more disadvantages, because the original painting can convey more sensitive elements, while if it is online, the authenticity would appear blurry.
Juan Pablo Bohorquez
Acrylic on masonite
Juan Pablo Bohórquez is a New York born and based artist whose surrealist paintings sink into the unconscious of the viewer. His life experience growing up in a Latino immigrant family in the USA is his greatest influence. Drawing from his past, Bohórquez exposes what he considers inherited senses of fear and displacement, while unravelling his relationship to identity all within his work. He explores this “inherited” psychology using symbolism and a visual language that entices the viewer to find meaning beyond what is just literally depicted and superficially obvious.
Your work Space-baby is not only masterful executed in terms of its technicality, but also suggests playful wisdom. In a time of global crisis, it seems more important than ever for us to find that inner child, can you talk a little bit about this work?
I first want to thank you for having me participate in this show. It’s so important during these difficult times. Space-Baby has become a very important symbol in my work representing a new awareness of ourselves and how we see the world. As a Latin American artist, I work with inherited cultural imagery to explore issues that are important to our time. Today we live in a globalized world that has us face issues of identity and representation that must be challenged and redefined. A son of immigrant parents like so many around the world I’ve had to reimagine what culture, ethnicity and nationalism means to me. Space Baby symbolizes that newfound awareness of ourselves in a globalized context discovering the strength and value of our individual stories. Everyone has a story to be told.
Is it fair to say that your work suggests a lot about your Columbian heritage? If so, can you talk a little bit about why is your cultural heritage vital to your artmaking?
Yes, my Colombian heritage is very much a part of everything that I do because it is one of the lenses with which I see the world. My sense of self was formed in an environment of cultural preservation where memory and language were of utmost importance. Not only knowing but expressing oneself correctly and effectively in another language really shapes how one sees and relates to the world. Growing up in NYC among so many other cultures cemented my feeling of otherness propelling me to dive deeper into the story of my culture and ethnicity. There are few things more intimate and fulfilling than the connection, understanding and acceptance of our past. Good art comes from the act of self-discovery and my work reflects this.
As a transcultural artist, what is your take on globalization?
“Globalization” is a term that can be used to express many things whether political, cultural or economic in a negative or positive fashion. I feel that globalization is the natural progression of civilization on this planet and it’s been going on the moment humans left Africa. We are all a product of globalization and myself as an artist is no exception. In accepting this reality however I do believe there is a struggle to be had. History is written by the powerful with culture and influence being no different. For better or worse the story at large has been told through a European and North American narrative. As a Latino artist my view of the world comes from a different story with a different sensibility that needs to be told. The struggle to include stories of all kinds and from all corners of the world needs to be had and Artists are an integral part of this.
Your work also possesses the traits of Surrealism, can you talk a little bit about your understanding of this important artistic movement and its place in today’s art world?
My attraction to Surrealism is a very effortless one starting early in my work. There is an intrinsic familiarity and understanding of surrealism and metaphysics in Latin culture. Whether through Mediterranean, indigenous and African cultures the concept of the “spirit of things” is extremely important. In Surrealist and Metaphysical art there is a belief of things being much more than what they appear. Whether it’s an object or a dream serving as a catalyst to a truth to be discovered or unveiled. This philosophy of “the spirit of things” is one that I hold dear in my work digging deeper to explore the unconscious. Artist like Di Chirico, Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Dali and others reminds us what this search can look like but I feel that this method of discovery and understanding should be more present than ever. Art has had an integral function ever since humans started to have the cognitive ability to make it. Art has always served as a portal to a world where part of us all reside. Artists like priests or shamans have been the Gatekeepers of the unconscious helping to decipher and understand our history and present experiences. However, in modern times through a European and North American lens I mentioned earlier art has come to be at service to itself. We became fascinated with a more scientific approach to art breaking it down to its more basic building blocks. Color, texture, line, sound and any other aspect of art have been studied and explored but consequently disconnecting us from meaning just beyond its own physical attributes. To be clear I’m not rejecting any school of art because it’s all necessary and valid but I do feel that this “purification” of art has sacrificed its role in society. My hope is that in this new world where many stories are told we rediscover the surreal and metaphysical aspects of art connecting us back to the “spirit of things” where truth and meaning lies just beyond our conscious reach.