A Q&A with Yi Zhou, Multimedia ArtistThe Art Dossier on June 26, 2012 with 0 Comments
Five things to know about Yi:
Favorite city in the world?
I have 3 favorite cities: Bangkok, LA, and Siam Reap.
I am obsessed with the veggie restaurant right next to my house in Shanghai. I love the Kronenhalle in Zurich for all the artwork and the sushi there.
Last good book you read?
About Chinese Empress.
Strangest thing you have in your home?
I have a SM wall painting in my house in Shanghai as a left over of a commissioned work for Bazaar art China.
Check out this week’s edition of “What’s in Your Fridge?” that Yi curated just for The Art Dossier.
In this month’s Q&A, we had a chance to interview Yi Zhou, a talented multimedia artist whom we first met a few years ago in Basel, Switzerland. As a young Chinese artist based in Paris and Shanghai, Yi is constantly traveling back and forth between the two cities and balancing the time to work on the numerous projects and collaborations she has going. One of her latest collaborations is with Persol, an Italian eyewear company, who asked her to write and direct a short film based on the theme “Beauty is in the details” as part of their campaign 8 Days of Persol.
This project came at a time when Yi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the awareness helped with the creative process for the film. Persol gave Yi full artistic liberty to express her interpretation of the theme and she enlisted the help of royals, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia and Clotilde Courau, Prince and Princess of Venice and Piedmont, for the short film. “Beauty is in the details: Murmur Woods” is a voyeuristic film featuring a modern day fairy tale couple and their blurred line between reality and hallucinations.
Watch the short film “Beauty is in the details: Murmur Woods” for 8 Days of Persol here and then read our interview with Yi to learn more about her inspiration for the film.
TAD: After you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, how did the awareness affect your approach to creating art?
YZ: I came to the realization last year in fall and it has changed my perception about my own sensations. What used to be true may be untrue. The borderline between reality and the hallucinations under racing thoughts became fascinating subjects for me to explore. Therefore I started paying attention and recording these moments, sensations, and visions and studied their fluctuations in a given period of time.
Right now, June 2012, I am trying to experiment a new art creative process: which is to create art under a state of non-emotional fluctuation. It’s pretty new as I believe many creative people need that drive to create. I think being in a state of neutral feeling and still be able to create is challenging for me.
TAD: The style of “Beauty’s in the details- Murmur Woods” appears to be a departure from your other video works that have an emphasis on 3D animation. Is this departure influenced by your awareness and acceptance of being bipolar?
YZ: The short film commissioned for Persol (Luxottica group) has a tiny 3D element at the end. There are two characters in 3D that get burnt printed on a piece of paper. That’s the end of superman or maybe it announces the arrival of superman. I have mainly focused on the film part, as I would like to explore more the film realm at this very stage of my life. I will keep on working on 3D animations but I feel the need for working with real people and real landscape are a new step I would like to further dig into.
TAD: This particular project was commissioned by Persol, the Italian eyewear company, who asked artists to produce a short film based on a theme. How did you interpret your theme?
YZ: I must compliment Persol, as it is my first “commercial” work, and I must admit that I had total freedom in the creative process, which is cool. I always thought working with brands would have a lot of constraints and I can say that I am pretty satisfied with the results and with the collaborative process with the brand. The theme was beauty is in the details, therefore, I have emphasized on the “detailness” of the objects and sensations under the state of hallucination.
TAD: Many of your video works feature people who are in the public eye, why are you personally drawn to celebrities?
YZ: I think it’s a coincidence and it’s a matter of encounter and feeling. I like people who give the sensation they want to follow my thoughts and where I would like to lead them to: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Clotilde Courau, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, Pharrell etc, they all had that daring and curiosity aspect that I am drawn to. The same aspects are also in the people I use that are not celebrities. For instance I just worked with a Chinese girl with whom I worked on the Bazaar China short film. I just used her again in a new project because she has that daring part, that innocence yet daring to a certain point. When she looks at the camera, her eyes look straight into the camera, with no fear, no hesitation, and they sparkle with innocence and freshness. These are qualities that very few people have, that straightforwardness in the eyes. You feel you are submerged by all of these qualities, and you want to follow her, no matter where she takes you to.
TAD: Why did you choose to work with Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia and Clotilde Courau, Prince and Princess of Venice and Piedmont, on this project? How did the relationship start?
YZ: I met them through mutual friends and we connected right away. I love them both, as they are very creative and very contemporary in their approach to life and creation. I just thought it would be interesting to share such an adventure together.
TAD: You mentioned in an artist statement that “Beauty’s in the details” is inspired by Thomas Ruff’s ongoing series Nudes, but his Nudes are deliberately blurred and warped to a point where the details are lost but the image as a whole is recognizably his. How does this translate to your film?
YZ: Yes, also I always thought that the idea of eroticism and sensuality is about the blurriness of our mind/ The less one sees the more it becomes intriguing.
TAD: Landscapes are a big part of your work – whether they are actual places or animated environments. Can you take us through your creative process on creating these settings?
YZ: Haha, I don’t go scouting for locations but I do get inspired from all the trips around the world I’ve been undertaking since a child. I have always lived as a nomad, from country to country and I have always been attracted to harsh places and countries. The wilderness and the danger. Once I even went for a safari on my own in South Africa. I was alone with a guide, well, the guide was a hot South African guy and there were so many dangerous roads he had to carry me. It was very funny. Going back to your question, I think I love the idea of mixing real and fictional landscape, and I think 3D technologies allows you to create anything you want from your imagination, that’s why I’ve used a lot of 3D in my works.
TAD: What is next for you? Anyone you would like to collaborate with on your next project?
YZ: I would like to do something radical. But, I cannot tell anyone yet.
For more information about Yi Zhou, please visit her website: www.yi-yo.net.