Interview with Wang Jianwei

Interviewed by Sandro

Location: Wang Jianwei Studio

(Sandro: S; Wang Jianwei: W)


S: I think you’re criticizing our society of today, but your critiques are very positive.


W: I believe this is what art is.


S: But you have a hope, many artists have been criticizing without a hope.

W: I think critiques only are too simple. For example, Morandi from Italy, he’s very simple, but he’s criticizing the society wherever you see him. He lived in the social background in which the Fascist was most rampant. We see his jars, and the society of that time, and we understand. Actually, I think I’ve seen this stuff in Italian movies and literature, and I’ve been influenced by Calvino’s Le città invisibili for years.


S: Your critique is like the critique of poetry. I think the video is quite interesting, “Zero”, the relationship between life and death, the one who jumped off is looking at his own life, the strongest point of memory before death.


W: Yes, it’s about life and death. The seven rooms are what he has seen about his whole life. It was Calvino’s influence, which was surrealistic. I was inspired by Foxconn, in which a dozen people, aged from 17 to 22, have jumped off the building in one year. They were writing their diaries, in which they said they want to by iphones. And there was one guy prepaid 100 yuan for his cell phone 40 minutes before he died. I’ve studied many reports. Why none of them wrote about leaving something for their families or about the arrangement after their deaths. They were working on the assembly line, where the work was quite simple, and the two people sleep on the bunk beds don’t know each other They gradually lost their self-judgment, and the boundary between life and death became vague. The death might be another starting point.


S: You’re so sensitive. You’re a poet, and you want to influence the world around us and help it through your art.


W: Actually, this is what I think everytime I see great works; I think he helped me. I read Calvino’s work, and appreciate Morandi’s work as well. I think all good works should convey message like this. It’s not that Italian should communicate history of Italy, and Chinese should communicate history of China. I don’t think culture should be like this. Artists should make people understand the meaning they want to express wherever those people are from.


S: You’re so sensitive and easily sad, so you must be cautious, as it’s dangerous, just like your work Yellow Light.


W: You think I’m too thin. I’ve lost about 13 pounds since I started preparing for this exhibition. I moved to this place 4 years ago, when there were no streetlights. I suddenly turned on the lights when turning the corner, and found it strange, as it was another world where I could only see the black and yellow behind the car. This world is weird but safe, and you won’t be hurt without touching it.