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Li Wei Interview / Joia Magazine 07

Date of Birth: Sep 5th, 1970
Birthplace: Hu Bei Province
Place of current residence: Beijing

- We know that you moved from Hubei to Beijing in at the beginning of the 90's in search of better possibilities to develop your art. How do you remember those first years in Beijing? Was too difficult your first period in art's world?

I went to Beijing to study in 1993, one year later I quitted. At the beginning, due to my major, I started oil painting. That was a difficult time as what you say. I had to paint and worked. I've tried various jobs, such as book sale, advertisement corporation, design for films,etc. I had to face both realities in making a living and in creating artworks. Giving up my creating times for living. My thoughts changed gradually. Chinese Art world was not open at that time, it's difficult to get into. I had no chances to show my works to public until my first exhitibion which was curated by 7 of my friends in 1999.
After 2000, my chances for exhibition became more and more.

- What things did you saw and lived during that period that developed you like an artist?

At the first time I painted in 1989, I was confirmed that I would become an artist.

- Some says that your first significant public exposure was at the Tbird Shangai Biennale; where you performance without authorization. Can you tell us how was that experience? How the public did received your work that time?

Maybe. That exhibition was not allowed. But I have never thought that my performances should be allowed. Cos I'd love to create my artworks, it won't be interrupted by outside factors. I made my mirror performances in many parts of the world, surely, they are interrupted many times. So I think the situation I faced in Shanghai biennale is normal. It's not strange. But I got a good reaction, cos people can read many things from my works. A dialogue between people and my works come out.

- It seems to us that your work is very political¡­
Do you consider that your works are political? Do you believe that an art can exist without being political?

Yes, there exists political factors. But that is universal politics. I think what we called democracy in politics is fake. Of course I believe that art can exist without being political.

- What do you think with respect to how is the world these days? Which is your critic to the current state of the world?

We live in a world full of lies. And they are treated as truth rediculously. So the feeling of critical and panic is more stronger than any other generation.

- In what specific aspects and elements do you think that your works reflects the reality of the current Chinese people?

From 1999 to 2008. From the ground to the sky, change of height, very much alike the situation of the speed of Chinese current society.

- Do you think that your works are a global interpretation of the current state of the world?

Yes, exactly.

- Why do you think that your work has attracted the attention? Which do you think is the key of the success?

My works reflect what current envirionment affect people. The human condition which you can see from my works. I hope I can moved my each of my works first. Also, maybe people loves the feeling of getting rid of the gravity like what I'm doing.

- Your work has been defined so many times as "Performance Art". Do you consider that is like that? How you would define the "Performance Art"?

I don't think so. My works are combination of various arts, such as performance, photography and videos, also constallation. Performance is not my final destination. What I only have to think is how to create my works in a better way.

- Do you prefer the live performance or the final photography that you create? How do you difference both areas in your work?

They are both parts of my works. They can't be differentiate.

- What relevance has in your work the Humor factor? Are you conscience that many people when sees your work the first thing they do is to smile and then to be surprised?

I think frist reaction is astonishment, then is humorous. In fact, I don't quite think about humor factors when creating.

- In your web site we found with a "Certificate of Authenticity for Li Wei's Work". Can you tell us of what is this accreditation about? Why did you decided to create it?

Certificate of authenticity is the only way you can trust works you have are authentic and are created by Li Wei. Each edition of my works have a corresponding certificate. Collectors must have the certificate to be sure that works are created by Li Wei. This is for standardization of the market.

- We think that vertigo is an element very important in your work. In what that vertigo consists? It has to be with our human condition?

People are controlled by a strong power. Now, we restart to think about market economy and planned economy. So I wanna use vertigo to express an unstable and unclear condition.

- Most of your series shows human beings in places that everybody can see, but nobody lives. They are mainly very urban places. What interest you of those places and those perspectives? How do you do to choose the place in which you realize each performance?

Places I choose are suitable for my purpose of works.

-It seems to us that "Li Wei Falls To Earth" is your more well-known series and also that travelled most part of the world. How did you realize this illusion?
Initial ideas came out in 2001. I finished my sketch map then but not much perfect. Until 2002, I decided to shoot this scene. When I began my mirror series in 2000, a feeling of illusion and reality came to my mind. Falling into the earth such like extraterrestrial men falling into the earth. That's the opposite way of human beings.

- What meaning has for you the idea of "to fly and to land"?

To outburst the gravity. It means will to power. Also powerpolitik, oppressive power restrict freedom of people.

- How is born the idea of "29 levels of freedom"? What do you try to reflect with that series?

Freedom can't determined by numbers. But I want to use exact number to express freedom.

- Do you have any relation with South America? Would you like to do a performance or to realize any work in this side of the world?

No plans at present, but I'd really love to do the performance there if I have chances.

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