Interview: Liling Cui
Luca Curci talks with Liling Cui during the 5th Edition of LONDON CONTEMPORARY 2022, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
Liling Cui is a Chinese Fashion & Documentary photographer based between China and London. Prior to her art career, she worked as a Creative Art Director in advertising agency for many years and has been involved in a series of classic commercials. In 2019, she began studying in the fashion photography at University of Arts London where she switched her focus from design to photography. In 2022, she got her MA degree in Photography from the University of Arts London.
Her areas of focus include religious culture, public health, and women and girls’ issues. Many years experiences in visiting Tibetan areas, focusing on the observation and exploration of religious culture, especially the issue of cultural erosion and the protection of minority cultures. Her long-term project, ‘Village above clouds’- finalised in 8th Luxembourg Art Prize 2022 and shortlisted by Athen’s photo festival 2022. Her work ‘Dear God’ also was invited to Venice International Art Fair 2022 16th Edition and 5th Edition of London Contemporary 2022.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Liling Cui – My connection to photography begins with a common, but true childhood experience. I played with my father’s film camera when I was about four or five years old. The camera allowed me to appear on paper, which I thought was amazing. When I grew up, my undergraduate degree was not photography, but advertising design, so advertising design became my profession, and photography became my hobby. After working for many years, I realized I might need to stop and return to school. Therefore, I came to London and earned my MA in photography earlier this year. My focus has shifted to photography.
LC – What are you currently working on?
LC – I plan to start a project which is about immigration that focused on Asian culture and the state of the younger generation of Asian immigrants. There is a large Asian population around the western countries, especially in the United States. Asian hatred has always existed, but it has become more common in recent years because of the pandemic. But on the other hand, the voices of young Asians are getting louder, and they are rallying to defend their rights. I want to get to know the new generation of young Asians, how they see and understand their own culture, and how they see their own Asian identity.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
LC – Since I am usually more interested in history, culture, and news, so my work will focus on something more documentary. Currently, my work focuses primarily on ethnic minorities in cultural crisis, along with the art and aesthetics produced by them. The cultures of a few civilizations are being swallowed up by the development of globalization and the invasion of more powerful cultures, so I want to record them. Further, I’m very interested in religious subjects, not only because of the philosophy, but also because religion itself is a culture, the derived philosophy and art are very fascinating. Art is interconnected. Whenever possible, I prefer content that can be dug through continuously, allowing me to learn more and more. In addition to taking pictures, I also draw sometimes. It doesn’t matter what carrier you choose, as long as you can articulate your understanding of the world. You can also write poems sometimes.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
LC – There has been a lot of change, and I am becoming more aware of why I take photos. It is important to me that my photos tell stories and carry a sense of social responsibility in the future.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
LC – My photography combines documentary and fashion, since I am interested in documenting contemporary issues as well as lost cultural heritage, but I also want to express their artistic sense and beauty, which is why I plan to continue to work hard in this direction in the future, not only to convey the importance of cultural heritage, but to also demonstrate the unique beauty of people and the elegance of fashion. There are some civilizations that are declining due to globalization, such as the Himalayan culture of Tibet, the tribal culture of Indians, and some cultural collisions and adjustments caused by immigration.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
LC – For me, there are many sources of inspiration, such as countries I have visited, churches of different religions I have visited, and cultural manifestations of art, such as movies and books. As an example, I enjoy the films of Tarkovsky very much. To learn more about his social standing, I plan on watching many of his films. My next step will be to read history books to learn more about culture and art. The materials I collect will become my materials, and as I gain knowledge, I will connect with more things and enrich my base of knowledge. You will find that many arts and cultures overlap in the end.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
LC – The choice is more instinctive. Your interests will instinctively be determined according to your usual knowledge accumulation and many experiences, everything happens naturally.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
LC – It is true that most artists don’t know how to communicate to everyone what they are creating. Your support of artists can make a big difference.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LC – Absolutely, the work we do together is enjoyable for me. Looking forward to future collaborations.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LC – As a professional platform, I think this is a perfect way to not only expose artists’ works, but also allow more artists to be seen.