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Disrupting conventional narratives

Interview with Angel Qin

1.        Please tell us something about your background and your art journey so far.

Having lived and studied in Rochester, New York, Beijing, and London, I've developed a unique approach to art that seeks to explore and disrupt the conventional narratives about humanity and its relationship with the environment. My journey began with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Studies from the University of Rochester, complemented by minors in Studio Arts, Japanese, and Environmental Humanity. These diverse fields of study have helped lay the groundwork for my interdisciplinary approach, allowing me to weave together different narratives and perspectives.

I continued my academic pursuit with a Master's in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art in London, specializing in Moving Image. This specialization has allowed me to delve deeper into conceptual and performative arts, focusing on the dynamic interplay between humanity, ecology, and technology. My work often incorporates digital media, fashion, and performance to probe these relationships, presenting imagery from a non-human-centric perspective. This approach challenges viewers to rethink human identity amid technological evolution and promotes a harmonious coexistence with nature.

Throughout my career, my work has been recognized and featured in various prestigious platforms, including performances at Tate Modern and publications in Frieze Magazine and Vogue Italy. These experiences have not only enriched my practice but also affirmed my commitment to exploring complex themes through art, advocating for a nuanced understanding of our digital and ecological coexistence.


2.        Describe what a normal day looks like as an artist.

As an artist, my day usually begins with a cup of cold brew. While preparing breakfast, I reflect on the dreams I had the previous night and try to document them. This not only spices up my life but also helps me explore subconscious symbols and sources of inspiration.

My studio is at home because I enjoy creating in the comfort of my daily environment. While working on my art, such as modeling or video editing, I intersperse it with various household tasks like washing dishes, pruning flowers, and doing laundry. Engaging with these everyday details helps me ponder and draw inspiration, which is often reflected in my work; for instance, incorporating elements like washing machines and other household appliances.

In the evening, I focus on rebalancing my energy by taking walks or exercising. Observing the clouds and feeling the breeze helps me draw energy from nature. I usually end my day with meditation or chatting with friends. Lately, I've been falling asleep watching documentaries about the universe.


3.        Can you tell us more about the theme in your art and your inspiration?

In my artwork, particularly in projects like "White Euphoria," I delve into themes that challenge the mundane and everyday perceptions through a provocative lens. The primary inspiration for this project stemmed from the desire to inject a sense of joy and critique into our daily, often repetitive interactions with domestic appliances. I aimed to transform these common items into subjects of intrigue and allure by dressing them in erotic lingerie, using materials like lace and traditional lingerie colors to provoke a fetishistic gaze.

The concept was to create a juxtaposition between the curvaceous forms of human lingerie and the rigid, straight lines of household appliances, thereby fostering a post-human hybrid aesthetic. This blend of human and machine outlines not only challenges the viewer’s perception but also comments on the broader implications of desire and consumption in capitalist societies. I believe that in such societies, everything is streamlined into smooth, straight frames, which resist complexity and depth—much like consumerism, which simplifies and dictates our daily lives, leading to a collective sense of burnout.

Furthermore, the project also explores themes of hybridity and the hidden, often overlooked life of objects that inhabit our living spaces, akin to the vegetative nervous system that operates silently within us, regulating life’s most basic processes without our conscious input. By dressing these appliances in lingerie, I not only highlight their overlooked essence but also suggest a deeper, more primal vitality, hinted at through the eroticism of the lace folds, which symbolize the liberation from their usual, smooth exteriors to reveal a more vigorous, instinctual energy beneath.


4.        How does your art life impact other parts of your life? 

I believe that art creation is a profound form of self-healing, allowing me to reassess how I view the world and prompting me to re-examine myself. Adopting a post-humanist approach to art enables me to handle life's issues with greater tolerance and to approach these challenges with a fluid and open mindset.

In the process of creating art, I've learned to maintain sincerity towards my own work. This sincerity is not only reflected in my dedication and patience with art but also in my thoughtful and wise reflections on my creations. This ability extends beyond my artistic endeavors and permeates interactions with others and other professional activities, helping me to understand and communicate better in various social contexts.

Furthermore, art has taught me how to effectively convey and express opinions in everyday life. The diversity and richness of artistic expression have made me aware that tone, intonation, word choice, and timing in communication are crucial, directly affecting the effectiveness of the message delivered. Through art, I have learned not only skills and creativity but also how to precisely and sincerely articulate my thoughts and emotions.


5.        Share your worst experience in the art world.

My most challenging experience in the art world occurred during my graduate showcase. As graduates, we were allocated a particularly small and crowded venue for our final exhibition, with each of us only guaranteed a 2x2 square meter space for our displays. Over the three days allocated for setting up the exhibit, my allocated space was changed three times. The school's lack of organization meant that I didn't have enough time to properly set up and present my work. This experience at the graduation exhibition highlighted the vulnerability of artists when faced with authoritative institutions in the art world. It motivated me even more to advocate for artists and to organize efforts to protect their rights.



6.        Is the artist life lonely? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

To address whether the artist's life is lonely, it's important to first contemplate what loneliness actually means. For me, loneliness is not inherently a negative emotion; rather, it is a state of being, a mental state of "solitude" where one can truly perceive their sense of self. I believe this state is essential for every artist because loneliness fosters an environment suitable for deep thought and creative processes. Therefore, to some extent, the life of an artist is lonely and, arguably, needs to be lonely to facilitate this kind of introspective and productive work.

On another level, transitioning from an academic setting into the real world, I found it challenging as an introverted newcomer to actively engage in an art community that resonates with my artistic philosophy. The solitude that often accompanies the early stages of one's career can feel daunting; however, it also serves as a crucible for developing one's voice and vision. Being somewhat isolated from others has compelled me to delve deeper into my creative pursuits and develop resilience and independence that fuel my art.

Thus, while the artist's life can indeed be characterized by periods of solitude, these moments are not just gaps of social absence but opportunities filled with potential for personal and artistic growth. Through these phases of solitude, I've found strength and clarity in my work, which, in turn, has slowly helped me to connect more meaningfully with like-minded individuals and communities that share similar values and artistic goals.

7.  What are you working on at the moment and are there any upcoming events you would like to talk about?

I'm currently working on an exciting project where I'm developing a series of video weaving swatches. This involves repurposing 'digital waste' from discarded smartphone images to create what I refer to as electronic video fabric. In this project, I treat these videos as both sculptures and fabrics of time, employing wrapping distortions to expose their textures and explore the fetishization and destruction of the digital imagery’s smooth surfaces.

The process involves capturing moments as if sewing them together—recording is like cutting fabric from the world, and editing adjusts these images around a loom. This reveals the underlying threads of these digital 'fabrics,' transforming events into strands of yarn that are then re-woven into new forms. By doing this, I aim to break down the conventional framing and perception of time and space in digital media, challenging the viewer to reconsider the boundaries and essence of digital interaction in our contemporary era.

Instagram: @qinjiaqiangel


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