Q&A with Scotty So


Scotty So

Hello Scotty, please start by telling us something about yourself that is not in your bio.

I can control my eyes to make one looking at you and one looking away. I have been holding a record of being single and this year is the 27th year. I am also a good Thai cook because of my Thai mother.

Can you explain your artistic processes to us? Has this changed over time?

A lot of the time I actually get my inspiration from just daily living. I would read the news or just simply observe what interests me. One thing I do a lot is online shopping and I would look at beautiful things or ready-made objects on online shops and online auctions. Those items would then give me inspiration whether I purchase them or not. If I decided to work on a project or collection of work then I would do online research on specific items and try to get the closest thing that match with what I need for that project then I would test it out to see how they would work. The whole process involves experimentation and play which I enjoy a lot and I see all different stages of the experiment as finished work too.

As an artist, where do you draw inspiration for your work from?

As mentioned, a lot of my inspiration comes from what I experienced in daily life and what I love doing. For example I grew my interest in ceramics and opera from the lockdown in 2020 as I was watching a British pottery reality competition show as well as discovering how amazing the greatest soprano Maria Callas was. Then I started to learn to DIY ceramic at home and also to listen to a lot of Maria Callas and learn her aria for lip sync performance. The year later I created ceramic works that were collected by the NGV for the Triennial and also had to work with a professional soprano to create performance pieces for Rising this year.

Image: Scotty So, [Shungay], 2022. Commissioned by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography. Photo: J Forsyth.

Image: Scotty So, Shungay, 2022. Commissioned by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography. Photo: J Forsyth.

What has been the most rewarding project you have worked on so far?

The most rewarding project is the lockdown photography project that I did with making my own garment and dressed as different era women in drag with different matching cloth masks which were all sewed at home and taken in my bedroom. The looks were from the Qing dynasty all the way to the Republic of China in the 20s and 60s Hong Kong. Not only the photos were all collected by NGV but also I took some other black and white images in those looks and put them on wikipedia as ‘authentic’ historical images which later on went viral on twitter and reddit as people believed they were ‘real’.

Why is photography an important artform to engage with?

I think there is a truth that photography can provide that other mediums cannot provide as much, which is the truth of visuals even if they are manipulated. People believe in photography as the truth so much more than the other mediums which can be a good tool to my practice of changing historical narratives.

What does the PHOTO 2022 theme ‘Being Human’ mean to you?

Being Human to me is being different kinds of human beings. All humans are different rather racially, culturally, or with their gender, age and class. To me, I don’t think those categories define one as a human but rather all of those are parts of who one is and one is simply a human.

Image: Scotty So performing at PHOTO 2022 launch. Photo: Will Hamilton-Coates

Image: Scotty So Performing Turondot at Rising's Launch Party 2022 Photo credit: Eugene Hyland

When you are not working what do you enjoy doing most?

I love playing video games. As a full-time multi-disciplinary artist, I can relate all kinds of activities I do in a day to my art and use them as work, which is my job. Even with hobbies such as singing, cooking, sewing etc they all become part of my practice. So when I want to rest and let my mind go into art, video games is really something I would do currently until one day I start to use that as part of my art and inspiration.

What do you hope your legacy will be?

As I have been uploading ‘authentic’ historical images of myself onto different themes of Wikipedia, I hope all of those images remain ‘authentic’. There are many online platforms where you can see those images of me used on scholar’s articles, news sites, right-wing and left-wing propagandas, some even went on Yahoo Japan news and some are I lost the copyright to public domain as the images are considered created before the 50s so some eBay online shop has been reproducing them as authentic images from the 30s. I hope these will remain on the internet as archives and continue spreading around as my legacy to allow me to live across eras immortally.

What advice would you give to your 15 year-old self?


Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March