Q&A – Silin Liu
Beijing-based artist Silin Liu will be exhibiting at PHOTO 2021. Here she discusses how she constructs ‘The Truth’ through fiction and illusion, being inspired by Andy Warhol and traditional Chinese culture, and the project that has been keeping her busy during isolation.
It all began in 2008 when I started college and I chose photography as my major. In the beginning, I didn’t have much concept of photography as an art form. On one hand, I just didn’t want to continue drawing anymore; and on the other hand, I also thought photography was closer to life than other artistic mediums.
I use art to express how I view the world, or you can say that I create to interpret my own perceptions of the world. Over time, I have found different sources of inspiration and they always come in changing forms. In contrast, my attitude, or my original intent to create has not changed over the years.
I construct ‘The Truth’ through forms of ‘fiction’ and ‘illusion’ — this is my artistic language. Exploring the truth and having the capability of expressing it is the original intent of my practice.
Since I was born in the 90’s, the internet makes up a very important part of my life. When I create, I consider the way the work is viewed and even the way it is spread. I think most people discover my work online rather than in an exhibition. The internet is an infinite stage, so boundless in size that it is invisible. We should take notice of how much energy a work can generate by using the power of the internet.
Usually, I would really want to do something for a period of time. I’ll then do some research and think about why I want to do it, because the idea must be related to my personal experience or life. After these initial stages of processing, I start executing the ideas. I used to love working on my own at home, but recently I started to communicate with galleries and other friends during the creative process to see what other possibilities are out there or if there’s any other specific and feasible ways.
When I was completing my master’s degree, my college specialised in areas regarding the Internet and new media. Everyone around me was working in the Internet industry. This was 2013, which was also when We Media began to gain momentum globally. At the time, I also wasted a lot of time everyday trying to figure out how to become an “internet celebrity”. I ended up using my work to become an “internet celebrity”, or let my work become the “internet celebrity” on their own. Throughout this process, I was constantly pondering and adjusting to the changes in life that I was experiencing. I am genuinely interested in my lived experiences.
Many people and things have inspired me, and I often found inspiration through movies. I would say that Andy Warhol has inspired me in the most profound ways. When I discovered him, I was in middle school and I didn’t truly understand the deeper meanings behind his work, but I felt his attitude and it has affected me till this day.
Müdigkeitsgesellschaft by Byung-Chul Han
Some Buddhist music.
“Dark Course” by The Shanghai Restoration Project
I have been isolating at home for three months now. During this time, I thought about some of the problems regarding society, humanity and politics as revealed by the virus. Migrant Bird Space in Berlin has invited me to do an online exhibition, with the theme ‘FUN IN QUARANTINE’; so I combined the two things I did the most during isolation to share with the audience. This project is called ‘dinner time’, I used the making of a dish to construct a film series over 5 days. This film series can be seen as a practice of thought and self-reflection of the current situations and problems.
By conveying all the love and empathy from our hearts along with truthful and valuable reflections for everyone.
New creations are brewing.
I’m very interested in traditional Chinese culture, hence why I have been working at the Palace Museum for the past two years in the Heritage Hospital. My generation of young people grew up in the context of globalisation, so we lack a lot of knowledge of our own country’s culture. Thus, I hope to deconstruct Chinese traditions through this new project.
No advice —I have no regrets. I’m thankful that 15 year old me was so genuine, brave and confident. She doesn’t need to listen to too many opinions.