Chinese video artist Yafei Qi explores the social expectations for an individual in China in her show Life tells lies at Noplace. We have talked to Yafei about the show, her attraction to the moving image and her education at the Academy of Fine Art in Bergen:
Congratulations with your latest solo show Life tells lies at Noplace! Could you please elaborate on what you are presenting in the exhibition?
Thank you so much, I’m happy to have the opportunity to show my work at Noplace.
There are two video works presented in the exhibition. I wonder why is a video work based on a performance. I went through my first breakup after I spent 11 years with my boyfriend. I got baffled by the reaction of the society around me, which includes my friends, family and colleagues. The suggestions which I got from them were far away from my idea of moving on, which drove me to reflect on what is the social expectations for an individual in China. The video shows what the psychological impact is when the individual moves away from the normal standards of the social expectations and how the society punish a «female betrayer” for example.
I have been dealing with and thinking of the social expectation for me and my life. That is the idea behind the main work of the show, Life tells lies. All the plots in that work are adapted from the observations of my grandma and my mother’s real life and the imagination of my own future.
In the degree show for your master studies at the Academy of Fine Art in Bergen last year you showed a 13 minute double projection video piece called Wearing the Fog, which won the Best Experimental Film award at the Broadway International Film Festival 2016 and was awarded an Honourable Mention at the FIRST International Film Festival in 2016. Over the last couple of years your work has been focused on video. What is about the moving image that interests you?
I started with painting, though I majored in Film and video Art with a BA in China Central Academy of Fine Art. For me there is no denying that video is the art of time and space, which is something that I could not play with in painting. The moving image can also show the multidimensional aspects of life in ways other media can not, which is what attracts me as well.
You used to study film making, and during your master studies in Bergen you started to work with video installations with multiple screens and interactive elements. What made you start working with video as installation?
I made a few short films with narrative structure before I went to Bergen and had my MFA. I felt that a narrative video is not straight enough for me to express my ideas anymore, which forced me to start thinking about creating video as installation. I’m interested in doing moving image in a minimalistic way to express human emotions. I also wanted to try a new way to extend or condense time and space at the same time and explore the video language in both form and content simultaneously.
The multi-screen video installation can freely splice the images according to the directive of the artist, rather than arrange the images in linear time sequence. In this way, time has a multiplicity. In other words, multiple screens can divide the space as the extension of a multi-dimensional space.
This fall you have been part of the IASPIS residency program in Umeå, Sweden. Could you please elaborate on your stay in Umeå and what you have been working on during your time in the program?
During the time in IASPIS residency program I concentrated on working on a new project for three months, which is the same concept of deconstructing and extending time and space in video. I have been trying to abandon the narrative film structure, using performance, lights, scenes and audio to expand the space and break up the time, something which I am experimenting with at the moment. I had an opportunity to exhibit my two videos in Umeå Europe Film Festival and had an artist talk at Bildmuseet and Umeå University.
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