et’s be clear. These are not photo montages. No computer trickery here.
The danger you see is real, created by Li Wei placing his subjects in risky situations, held fast only by scaffolding, metal wires, oh, and the occasional helicopter.
Real world peril, which, as the artist explains in the following Q & A, is precisely the point.
INTERVIEW WITH LI WEI
Deanna Phoenix Selene: A frequent theme throughout your work is the precariousness created by the tension between breaking free and forces that bind. What are you telling us about the state of Chine today and perhaps life in general?
Li Wei: Why I use gravity is because I hope to break through it. [quote]I’m like a meteorite, unstable and dangerous. This is the status of the globalized world.[/quote]
Li Wei: China is a fast-paced, growing country. I use the danger element to showcase the current status of Chinese society.
Li Wei: Why I mentioned globalization is because, I feel this is a danger. That’s exactly the way I positioned my subjects in my pictures: falling into someplace or hanging up high in a building. These are unstable and dangerous situations.
Li Wei: The massive construction in China also exposes us to this danger.
Li Wei: I hope to show this kind of instability in a humorous way.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: There is such a wonderful exuberance in these images. I imagine you must have been very curious as a child? Mischievous even? Did you find yourself getting into trouble frequently when you were growing up?
Li Wei: No. My art is only how I feel about my normal life.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: How would you like us to take in your work? Is this photography? Acrobatics? Magic? Physics? Or an alchemy of all of the above?
Li Wei: I’m an artist. I not only do photography, I also do sculpture. Photography is only one way of expressing my art.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What is your background and training?
Li Wei: I studied oil painting in college. Before turning to photography, I was a performance artist.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Your greatest sources of creative inspiration?
Li Wei: I came to Beijing in 1993 and had a good connection with artists in the east village, such as Zhang Huan.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What has been some of the reaction you’ve received?
Li Wei: Well, I think sometimes people only see my work in humorous way. But that’s fine for me. Although my work is expressing something different.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Is there a story you still want to tell, but you haven’t yet figured out how to technically pull it off?
Li Wei: No. I can do it all technically, mostly. [quote]I use a helicopter and I also act like a monk. I can make the impossible possible. [/quote]
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Where do you see yourself going as an artist from here? What questions do you still wish to explore?
Li Wei: I still wish to explore the current living situation of my normal life. My works are surrounded by my real life.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What is the role of artist today?
Li Wei: To express himself and to make something in a brand new way.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: If you could have any super-human ability, what would it be?
Li Wei: To visit the moon.
To view more of Li Wei’s work, visit the artist’s website at: http://www.liweiart.com/