Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
Making art is how I feel a sense of existence and belonging. There is no specific time point that I decided to be an artist. But the decision has been made during the years, and it was influenced by things I see and hear and the experienced I gathered when I was doing art-related part-time jobs.
Art, for me, is a way to connect and communicate with people. In my early experience, I gained confidence when I drew in elementary school. I enjoy seeing the happiness, surprise, and admiration in my parents, teachers, and peer’s eyes. They were my earliest audience. It felt like I had found a way to express my inner thoughts to others. And this feeling kept me going until I got into art school and studied contemporary art.
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
After receiving my BFA from China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2019, and exchanged to Glasgow School of Art (2017), I am currently pursuing my MFA at School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a full scholarship supported by the Chinese Scholarship Council. During these times I've gained a great interest in contemporary art and developed my path in visual language including digital form. I grew my sensitivity in space, material, and the logic that forms a visual perception. And photo, small objects, and new media are the ways I would use to enrich the viewer’s artistic experience.
What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?
Simulation and simulacra created by pictures. And the real and unreal situations that cannot be defined. I enjoy challenging reality with narratives. These ideas go through my practices including visual art, text-based graphics, and some self-directed experimental public event.
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?
Tim Portlock, Brandon Lattu, Stephanie Syjuco, Amanda Musick, Kelly Kristin Jones, Daniel Eatock, and Weiyi Li. Their work inspired me in many ways. Some lead me to think about the possibility of various approaches to a daily problem, some provide a new way of technique usage, and others have a similar appearance compare to my work that offers a conversation or a successful sample.
Where do you find inspiration?
I encounter their (artists listed above) practices through friends and professors at school. And the only way to look at their work is via internet. From time to time I will collect funny short videos founded online. And I really enjoy Nathan Fielder’s show on Central Comedy. Right now I am stuck in my apartment because of the unsafe commute to school’s studio that makes me rely on internet and digital devices more than ever.
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
Our television, Your Success. The project contains photographs, edited commercial ads with voiceover, and models of houses. It is a work in progress that I believe is a collection of and a connection to my previous work and research. I am using TV as the major element to illustrate the simulation, the delivery, and the consumption of the image of a better life or a symbol of success that is created by capital. And it’s also about a contradiction between such a fantasy and a traumatized reality.
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
I think of the TV as a frame and the simulacra have been delivered through the screen. I searched the internet and found a lot of commercial advertisement clips that try to show how good their (tech companies) television is. What amused me was that they put an image of a mountain on the TV screen but there are more mountains behind the TV. And people in the ads would enjoy the simulation in a TV rather than a real nature. Then I wrote a script that makes fun of it and asked a broadcasting professional to read it for me. Later, more elements came into the work including some installation and ready-made objects. The project starts to grow.
What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?
I am starting to realize the importance of the connection between my current work and my previous work because together they could make a stronger, sharper, and broader voice than individual pieces. And the viewers will be able to see the evolving of the idea between the projects.
What are you working on now?
I am gathering more video clips for the TV project and I am trying to make a new moving image piece about the issue mentioned above from a different angle.
If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?
I would try to be encouraging but other than that, any advice would be useless because he has to grow up on his own and find his own path.
About the Artist
Based in Chicago, Illinois
Jiaqi Li is a visual artist. He uses pictures/images as material to challenge the existed visual experience. He is obsessed with the humor brought by the deception of the image, which is all around us, exists as tricks, camouflage, or ideal vision, and is easy to be produced and circulated. He claims to be a pessimist who pretends to be an optimist, a realist who pretends to be an idealist.
View Artist Profile