Qiuyu Wu(b.1998) attempts to express the emotions and experiences related to her past through her visual creations, she delves into themes of love, loss, freedom, and independence. Her works aim to provoke contemplation on gender, identity, and societal expectations, urging viewers to reassess and reshape their understanding of the female emotional experience. Her art strives to evoke melancholy, delicacy, and abstraction.
Today, once again, the body has become a contested site for ideologies, a pretext for cultural and political anxiety. As I capture these images, I dedicate a portion of time to acclimating to the surroundings and unraveling emotions—an endeavor that tests my limits, yet grants me the liberating pleasure of boundless expression. Simultaneously, I yearn to preserve the primal yearning and romance inherent within the body, while also establishing a deliberate distance from the beholder. This endeavor seeks to reshape the visual rhetoric and politics of perception, attempting to forge a new path for the gaze.
SO WHAT 01 is a long-term creative process that attempts to present a year of self-exploration in London in the form of a visual diary.
When my father died in the middle of March last year, I could not face the pain straight away and fled back to Shanghai. I went through two months of complete home isolation in Shanghai until I was released in June. I then underwent maxillofacial surgery and managed to wake up after lying in the ICU for one night. I was unable to chew for the whole of July and had to drink liquid food and take in my appearance. In August, the paperwork was processed and I packed my bags and came to London.
Each month brought a new pain, perhaps physical or psychological. It's like being in the ocean, struggling to breathe before the waves come crashing in and overwhelm you with more intensity.
Coming to London seemed like a step into a wider space, but in reality I was still timidly running away from my hurting heart.
The inception of the diary captures my nostalgic yearning for my cherished love. I focus on the present moments of daily life, to take pictures of myself smiling before I go to the famous places, maybe make postcards and send them back to China to tell my father, look, I'm here as I wanted to be, I'm doing well, don't worry, I look like this now, I love you.
As I endeavored to heal myself through this means, I discovered its serenity to be insufficient, craving for more vigor, more daring escapades. Thus, I opted to capture my essence amidst one of England's most emblematic sites—the White Cliffs.
Levity is an irresistible temptation.
As I stripped off my clothes and stepped onto the hard, frigid white stones in November, it was an irresistible and addictive liberation of the body. I shivered from the cold, my skin constricting with tension, as adrenaline surged through me, a thrilling and exhilarating sensation, as if pulling my submerged brain out of the depths consumed by emotions.
Subsequently, within the confinements of cramped spaces in various European cities, I endeavored, akin to a struggle or resistance, to leave behind more traces of my own being.
But soon, various experiences taught me that as you sit solemnly across from people, dressed in clothes, recounting your creative works, they have already imagined you lying wantonly on a bed, completely exposed. The female power you believed to be a solitary exploration of different countries is merely a tantalizing snack in the realm of others' fantasies. They pity your loneliness, doubt your motives, disdain your audacity. For some, it's too bland; for others, too salty, and too primal.
This is the small park next to the British Museum that I passed by when I arrived in the UK in September. I sat on the universally shared children's equipment, accompanied by a harmonious family. Now, almost a year later, I return to this familiar place and begin to contemplate what I have gained from it. Failed relationships, stagnant creativity, the sudden suspension of patriarchal structures. Whose expectations am I about to face? What role am I playing in this situation? What is it that I truly desire？Where does a sense of belonging truly reside?
Regardless of the subtle elements intertwined within—identity, gender, geographic origins—it ultimately circles back to the core of the self, an unfinished tale yet to be concluded.