Today's POP is Alice. Bridging the Gap.
Chinese-born artist Yi Zhou explores the virtues and paradoxical limits of imagination, and its porous relation to reality. From video to sculpture, and an active involvement with her country’s social media scene, she bridges East and West, fantasy and brutal honesty.
After holding a solo exhibition at the last Venice Biennale and directing a film for the United Nations featuring Jackie Chan and French actress Clotilde Courau, she has just released a more personal piece, ‘Beauty is in the detail-Murmur Wood’. The short film, commissioned by the Persol Luxottica Group, deals with Yi’s own experience of bipolarity, and aims to deliver a message to all creative souls.
Pop met Yi in part-time home Paris and spoke of China, fashion and long-lasting love.
Imagination is a key component to your work. Why is that?
Imagination is essential to our existence. The world is divided into leaders and followers. And what differentiates leaders from followers is the power of imagination and its manifestations. In contemporary society and social media, it's all about how you brand your imagination and what goes around it. My life is based on my imagination, which is my disease yet salvation– my disease due to its bipolar sides, which I have used as my inspiration and theme of my latest film, ‘Beauty is the detail – Murmur Woods’.
Although you lead a rather international life, where is China in your work?
I now live mostly in China, although also partially in Paris. I consider that the Chinese part in my work is its social media aspect. I moved back to China and got totally caught in the social media side – which helped me to build my profile in China. I am obsessed by it, and so do all the Chinese. I am lucky to have been named as the art and fashion advisory member of ‘Sina’ and ‘Weibo’, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter. I also love the fact that I can bridge my passion and my worlds from the East to the West and vice-versa. Many girls in China are very keen to get their name out there and to find a rich hubby. I feel very lucky and blessed because my creativity is the best marriage, and hopefully will last for the rest of my life.
From videos featuring Diane Von Furstenberg, or styled by Nicola Formichetti, how do you manage to bridge art and fashion?
I love style more than fashion. I really can't be bothered by fashion entourage and fashion modus operandi. I am in and out of fashion. This is my salvation. I love all the creative people who have the courage to put their world out there. I feel close to those truly creative people who don't look right and left, who are honest with their world and their vision, and most of all they don't copy others' works. I think lots of fashion people survive on a fast response to the idea of "hot", "trend", "headline stealing", and by responding in a fast way, they manage to create a sort of soufflé. The soufflé however can only last for a few months in the fashion season, or a few seconds in the social media season. I search for longevity, depth, weight, and peace. Peace for a better future.
What is the story behind your latest film?
Inspired to Thomas Ruff, especially to his pornographic series he made in 2003 and all his body of work and approach to art. Some of his works have deeply influenced my vision and served as inspiration for my latest video, commissioned by the Persol Luxottica group. The piece features real life Princess Clotilde Courau and Prince Emanuele di Savoia, in which there are abstract pornographic images intercut in the film. It was written in a time where I found out I suffered from the Van Gogh syndrome, i.e. Bipolarity. Many artists have and still suffer from it. It was shocking and I decided to write a short story so that it can help other people who may suffer from the same case.
Your work is also highly realistic at times – what is your message to today's society?
I am a perfectionist. I am a daydreamer. I search for the perfect world, perfect love, perfect friendship, perfect beings. I might sound naive, and most of the time I have to cope with my deception for the world, and for what I see unfolding in front of my eyes. This is one of the reasons that make me an artist: frustration and escape.
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