Interviews | June 13, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

Interview: Yixuan Wu
Luca Curci talks with Yixuan Wu during VISIONS, third appointment of CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2023.

Yixuan Wu, a visual artist, currently lives and works in New York. She received an MFA degree in Visual Arts at Columbia University in 2022 and a BFA degree in Photography at Rhode Island School of Design in 2019. Drawing from the ungraspable yet familiar everyday situations, she reconstructs and reconfigures vignettes of domesticities into substructures. Her sculptural arrangements address the subtle gestures that endow the objects of sensual qualities, the incongruous systems, and the uncanny. Embedding personal narratives into multiple cultural sources, Yixuan’s practice investigates fragmented recollections through layered intricacies. 

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Yixuan Wu – I grew up in a coastal town in northeastern China, where I had the privilege of living near an art university campus. Regularly visiting the campus became a consistent source of inspiration for me. Witnessing the dedication and exceptional talent of both the students and faculty sparked my deep interest in art education and exposed me to the transformative power of creative learning environments. These invaluable experiences played a pivotal role in shaping my decision to pursue a career in the field of art.

At the age of 18, I made the bold decision to relocate to the United States in order to pursue my art education at the renowned Rhode Island School of Design. This chapter of my life provided me with unparalleled opportunities to explore and experiment with various artistic mediums. As I delved into my studies, I quickly realized the limitations of confining myself to a single medium, despite initially focusing on photography. This realization became a catalyst for me to push the boundaries of my artistry by integrating diverse mediums into my photographic works. It was through this exploration that I discovered my passion for sculpture, ultimately leading me to embark on a Master’s degree program at Columbia University, specializing in this expressive art form.

LC – How much has the city/country in which you grew up/born affected your work as an artist?
YW –
During my childhood, I resided in Jinshitan, Dalian, a quaint tourist town enveloped in a vibrant artistic atmosphere. My neighbourhood sat just across the street from one of China’s prestigious Art Universities. Growing up in such close proximity to this renowned institution exposed me to the boundless possibilities of art from an early age. Moreover, I had the privilege of receiving art tutoring from the esteemed Art Academy, which further nurtured my creative talents and ignited an unwavering passion for the arts.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

More recently, I have been fortunate enough to embark on a deeply meaningful public art commission project in collaboration with Jinshitan. This opportunity holds immense significance for me, as I now have the privilege of contributing my artistic abilities to the very community that has shaped my upbringing. The central focus of this project revolves around the creation of an outdoor sculpture that both pays homage to Jinshitan’s rich history and accentuates the town’s picturesque qualities. Through this collaborative endeavour, my aim is to craft a work of art that encapsulates the essence of the town’s heritage while serving as a visual celebration of its distinctive charm.

My ultimate aspiration for this project extends beyond aesthetics; I hope to inspire a profound sense of pride and unity among the residents and visitors of Jinshitan. By contributing to the broader discourse on public art and its transformative power, I seek to generate meaningful conversations and evoke a collective appreciation for the arts. This endeavour allows me to leave a lasting impact on my beloved hometown while also engaging in a larger dialogue about the influential potential of public art.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
YW –
At the core of my artistic practice lies a profound exploration of everyday objects and their remarkable capacity to reveal profound insights about our individuality and the society we coexist in. I find myself consistently captivated by domestic artifacts, as they possess a unique ability to transcend their utilitarian purpose and engage our senses on multiple levels. It is through evoking tactile sensations, resonating sounds, enticing scents, and even tantalizing tastes that these objects offer us rich sensory experiences.

The vast sensory potentials residing within these objects act as a driving force for me to delve deeper into their expressive possibilities. I firmly believe that by closely examining these ordinary yet extraordinary artifacts, we can attain a deeper understanding of our intricate relationship with the material world that surrounds us. They serve as gateways to a broader exploration of our personal narratives, societal dynamics, and the intricate interplay between the tangible and intangible aspects of our existence.

By delving into the expressive potential of these daily objects, I aim to unravel the intricate layers of meaning embedded within them. Through my artistic practice, I seek to invite viewers to pause, contemplate, and reevaluate their own connections with the material world. Ultimately, my intention is to provoke a heightened awareness of our surroundings, fostering a deeper appreciation for the profound narratives and experiences that can be unravelled through the seemingly mundane artifacts that shape our lives.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
YW – Embracing diverse artistic mediums is not only a fundamental aspect of my creative process, but it also presents a constant and rewarding challenge that I eagerly pursue. As my artistic practice revolves around installations, I am continuously engaged in studying and acquiring the necessary skills relevant to bringing my visions to life. Each project I undertake demands a unique set of abilities, some of which may be exclusive to that particular artwork. However, the journey of familiarizing myself with these skills consistently necessitates devoted time and dedicated practice.

Whether it involves learning to work with new material or refining my existing abilities, I wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and expand my artistic horizons. This process of exploration and acquisition, although accompanied by inherent difficulties, is an indispensable part of my artistic journey. It challenges me to grow as an artist and encourages me to continually push the boundaries of my creativity.

Engaging with diverse artistic mediums not only enhances my versatility as an artist but also allows me to fully realize the unique visions I aim to convey. By immersing myself in the acquisition of new skills and techniques, I am better equipped to transform my artistic concepts into tangible and immersive experiences. This constant pursuit of expanding my skill set enables me to effectively translate my ideas into impactful installations that resonate with viewers on multiple levels.

While the journey of acquiring new skills can be demanding, it is undeniably a gratifying and transformative process. Each endeavour adds depth to my artistic practice, enriching the possibilities for self-expression and enabling me to bring forth innovative and thought-provoking installations. The challenges I encounter along the way only serve to fuel my determination, as I recognize the immense value in continuously evolving as an artist and embracing the ever-changing landscape of artistic mediums.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

LC –  Did your style change over the years? In which way?
YW – Upon the completion of my bachelor’s degree in Photography, I experienced a pivotal moment that compelled me to break free from the constraints of working within a single medium. It was during this transformative period that I embarked on a journey of expanding my artistic practice, integrating multiple mediums into my creative repertoire. This newfound exploration opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.

As I delved into these cross-disciplinary experimentations, I discovered a profound passion for working with installation-based sculptures. This focus allowed me to transcend the boundaries of traditional artistic practices and merge the realms of photography and sculptural forms. By combining elements from these diverse disciplines, I was able to create more immersive and dynamic art experiences that resonated deeply with viewers.

The integration of photography and sculptural forms within my artistic practice added a new layer of dimensionality and engagement to my work. It allowed me to transcend the limitations of a static image and create art that enveloped the viewer, inviting them to become active participants in the narrative. This fusion of mediums enabled me to tell stories and evoke emotions in a more profound and evocative manner.

By merging photography and sculpture, I found a perfect harmony between capturing moments frozen in time and exploring the physicality of three-dimensional space. This blending of mediums not only expanded my creative possibilities but also enriched the conceptual depth of my artwork. It enabled me to convey ideas and provoke contemplation in a more nuanced and multisensory way.

Through this integration of mediums, I strive to create art experiences that go beyond visual aesthetics and engage the audience on a visceral level. I aim to transport viewers into immersive worlds where they can explore, question, and forge their own connections with the art. This synthesis of photography and sculpture has become an integral part of my artistic identity, allowing me to push the boundaries of my creativity and continuously evolve as an artist.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition? In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?

Art is a rich and diverse field, encompassing a vast array of perspectives and interpretations. Within this expansive landscape, the exhibition titled “VISIONS” serves as an ideal platform for artists to delve into and present their unique understanding of this broad concept. It provides a space for a wide range of visual expressions, granting me the freedom to showcase my distinct perspective in response to the theme.

For this exhibition, I have chosen to present a drawing from my larger series titled “Peace Pills.” This thought-provoking series delves into the methods of behavioural modification, meticulously designed to interfere with our rational thinking. Through my drawings, I strive to illustrate moments when established systems fail to function as intended, shining a light on the inherent absurdity of certain didactic equations. These equations serve as a tool to articulate the complex power dynamics between psycho-technology and the human body.

By exploring the intricate relationship between external knowledge and our individual visions, my aim is to convey the notion that our understanding of the world can be influenced, at times against our own will. The drawings within the “Peace Pills” series serve as a catalyst for viewers to reflect on the ways in which their perceptions and interpretations are shaped by external forces. This includes the sway of societal norms, the impact of cultural influences, or the ever-evolving advancements in technology.

Through my artwork, I seek to ignite critical thinking and inspire meaningful conversations about the multifaceted nature of vision and its inherent susceptibility to manipulation. By presenting these evocative drawings within the exhibition, my intention is to invite viewers to question the sources of their own knowledge and consider the profound impact that external influences have on their unique visions of the world.

Ultimately, my artistic practice serves as a catalyst for introspection and dialogue, urging viewers to scrutinize the complexities of their own perception and to challenge the status quo. By provoking contemplation and encouraging a deeper exploration of the forces that shape our individual visions, I aspire to foster a greater awareness of the intricate dynamics between external influences and our inherent agency as interpreters of the world around us.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us? 
YW – I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the ITSLIQUID team on not just one, but two exhibitions. I feel privileged to have been a part of such a supportive and dedicated team that has made the entire process an absolute pleasure from start to finish. From the initial preparations to the actual showcasing of my artwork, their professionalism and unwavering support have been remarkable.

Throughout both exhibitions, the ITSLIQUID team has consistently demonstrated their commitment to promoting and showcasing artists’ work with utmost care and attention to detail. Their guidance and assistance have been invaluable, providing me with a strong foundation and a sense of confidence throughout the entire journey. I have been truly fortunate to collaborate with a team that not only values the artists they work with but also strives to create a seamless and enjoyable experience for all involved.

The level of dedication exhibited by the ITSLIQUID team is truly commendable. They have gone above and beyond to ensure that every aspect of the exhibitions runs smoothly, allowing artists like myself to focus on our creative process and engage with our audience. Their passion for art and their genuine support for the artists they represent shine through in every interaction, fostering a sense of trust and mutual respect.

I am deeply appreciative of the ITSLIQUID team for providing me with a platform to showcase my artwork and for their unwavering support throughout the entire process. Their professionalism, dedication, and genuine care have undoubtedly enhanced my artistic journey and made these experiences truly memorable. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such an exceptional team, and I look forward to the possibility of working together again in the future.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

LC -What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
YW – The team at ITSLIQUID has demonstrated a genuine passion for promoting and celebrating art in all its forms. Your commitment to curating diverse and thought-provoking exhibitions is evident in the quality of the shows you organize. I am honoured to have been a part of these exhibitions and to have collaborated with a team that shares my enthusiasm for artistic expression.

LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
YW – I am deeply grateful for the thoughtful organization of the event by the ITSLIQUID team. Your attention to detail and consideration for the logistics involved in shipping my artwork internationally have been invaluable. I am very thankful for your constant communication and updates, which have provided me with a sense of reassurance throughout the process. Being able to present my work internationally through this platform is a tremendous opportunity that I truly cherish. I am constantly inspired by the potential of art to bridge cultural divides and foster connections between people of different backgrounds. Your commitment to showcasing artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures reinforces my belief in the unifying power of art.

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Image courtesy of Yixuan Wu

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