Interview: Nandan He
Luca Curci talks with Nandan He during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 8TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Nandan He is a multimedia artist whose work mainly swings between interactive sculpture and mixed media installation. By using cardboard, animation, video installation, etc, she creates intimate spaces like a false self-preservation solution with sanitised and romanticize armour, explores the rawness of a contemporary self, embodied the cognition of abundant void, and reveals an irrational order of a hyper normalized wonderland. Nandan gains her BFA and MFA degree from Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work has been exhibited in Performance Space 122 New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Baltimore; Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis; Walter Otero Contemporary Art, Puerto Rico; Fukuoka International Youth Film Festival, Japan; Holyart, London; CICA Museum, Korea; XSPACE Art Square, China, etc. She now works as an independent artist lives and works in New York.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Nandan He – I majored in painting and interdisciplinary art at Maryland Institute College of Art for my BFA and MFA degree. It is such a place that you could really emerge yourself into quite solid art experience and practice. I have got influenced by many things like movies, readings, conversations with others, everything in life makes me think, and so on and so forth, I want to admit my ignorance and I like the feeling of being raw, wild with no boundary in terms of art-making.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
NH – For now, I am mainly working on my animation and mixed media interactive installation, but I am open to trying out more mediums in terms of the needs of specific work in the future. In a wild range of perception, the “subject” consists of a combination of conflict, but I enjoy the vibe of it, it makes me think about the relationship between me and the world all the time. I guess I will describe my subject as a vague flowing cognition of illusion based on everything around me.
LC – What is your creative process like?
NH – To create works, I need to first feel myself, and feel the time and space in that period of time because art to me is a really personal thing, it comes from my everyday life. When starting a piece, it depends on what kind of work I am working on. Additionally, I pay attention to creating serious work in a humorous way. I think this kind of conflict will have a powerful impact in terms of art-making and storytelling. To me, the incredible trauma point often affects the audience the most when sealed off with jokes.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
NH – As for now, I don’t think my art has focused on any specific theme. If really to phrase them into words, they are coming out in a narrative way. They consist of a wild range of little stories. I really like the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. He mentioned in one of his presentations that “art should offer an opportunity to recognize our common humanity and vulnerability. So rather than pretending I’m an expert, I’m just telling you I don’t know anything.” Thus, I was just trying to find little exciting things that infiltrated my life that sometimes might be missed by others because of the rapid inflated development of everything within time and space. I want to walk the viewers into my reminiscent formula, which confronts social and personal predetermined values and ethical dilemmas beyond our rational behaviour.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
NH – First of all, I still don’t consider myself an artist until today. I am still trying to see and feel the world before growing up to be an artist. I have mentioned this in many of my interviews. The most important thing for me to become an artist nowadays is, to be honest with myself. It’s a lifelong process and to be honest with one’s self takes time and patience. The outside world will sometimes make you subconsciously do things that you think are coming from you but actually do not. I am making works that try to reveal collided alterations of predetermined values. I spent a lot of time digging in within myself, and feeling the energy and spiritual world, it cascaded into a balance that allows artists and their surrounding world to grow up together. Thus, to me, becoming an artist is a lifetime project, I’m not in a rush, yet to have a conclusion.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
NH – Art Contemporary Venice is such an amazing festival that gathered multimedia artists around the world, other than that, I have got a pretty personal reason that is attached to the festival. Because it took place in Venice. It all comes with a story related to one of my favourite books Invisible city written by Italo Calvino. There was a quote in the book says that “Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” So in terms of the phrase them into words, rather than saying that every artwork is created to be attached to the festival, it’s more like the festival offered a magical platform that subconsciously gathered every artist’s fragile inner ego and consist them into a new expensive image. And this is really romantic.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
NH – Thank you for the compliment, I appreciated it. Two animations I exhibited this time is preexisting works from before. I was going to show some of my most recent pieces for the show, but due to the pandemic situation these days, it is hard for me to be physically at the venue to install my interactive installation piece, so the best option for me is to show video works. Hopefully, there will be another chance in the future.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
NH – I think the platform is a really active and hard-working art representing platform that gives artists many stages to show their personality and their work.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
NH – That’s for sure. I think Itsliquid group is such an open platform with a wild range of opportunities for different types of artists to communicate and present their work outside of their original country and represent them internationally.