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Interview with Lu Lei

ShanghART X Lu Lei Translator: Janet Xing 2015

Q: When do you start to have the mind of making the art?
A: When I was in college, accidently I had the chance to do the video art. My classmates and I were interested in it and tried to do some. But at that time, it could not be regarded as making art. Several years after graduation, I decided to be an artist and considered installation as my main expression.

Q: You studied sculpture in the China Academy of Art; however, installation is your main approach at present. What differences between sculpture and installation for you?
A: Yes, I studied the sculpture before and turned to the installation afterwards, which is not difficult for me. Making installation does not need to understand the sculpture, as they are both the art of the space and substances. Installation is much freer to me. In fact, I’m not sure what I’m making is the sculpture or installation, I do not want to make sure either.

Q: What’s your way of creation, from the feelings, experiences, or theories?
A: I may use all of these. Generally, I start from different points of view for different works. Sometimes I do not know what I’m doing, thus I shoot first and then draw the target. Anyway letting me free is right. Classicism and Early Modernism have great effects on me. But I seldom get inspiration from books and records because it is heavy burden for me.

I do not have settled ways to create. Sometimes a word, a sentence or texts could not be understood may all become my start point. Additionally, for some works I might have imagination scenes first and then start to do, to test, to consider using what materials and structure for it. Now I increasingly like this way. Although sometimes I do not know what I’m going to make, maybe just the scene in my head or the combination of the material, I already start by hand when I do not fully understand what it means. Actually I do not care if the completed work is the thing I want to do at the beginning, however luckily I could turn it to the right way at the end. This is also my way to get freedom.

Q: You seem have high standards of work details, sometimes it is similar to some kind of research. Could you talk about your work status?
A: Comparing with the earlier artists for making the work, modern artists are much quicker. But I think it could be slower. Actually I do not pursue the fine; I just want to make everything in order. Extreme fine is not my destination.

Q: What’s your view of the material application in your work?
A: Different material could reflect different characteristics and symbols. I do not rely on the specific material; hence various materials are used in my work. Furthermore, I do not use fixed material to make the work. Material is only part of the work for me. However, I also hope I could keep the sensibility of the material in my work.

Q: In your previous works, different ideology images are used such as Morse code in The Tower on the Border, the ceremony in The bat’s conference, and the cold war map in Dark Clouds, what particular meanings or effects of these images on you?
A: The remnants of that age have great effects on finalizing my views of the world. These images such as the Ceremony and Morse code are all the microcosm of that time. I have emotion conversion during making the work. Someone may think I’m expressing some views of politics, but what I do is just transforming matters I experienced to real images. For example, the Morse code, I wanted to be a detective when I was a child and to get the skills others did not have. Then I tried to know its principle. Therefore Morse code makes deep impression on me.

I think I‘m kind of a nostalgic person and I find the elements I use are disappearing. These are all printed in my mind, thus I would like to present them.

Most artists could not avoid influences from the growth stage. Traces of past may push what artists do afterwards. Actually I do not care about the imaging things, I always collect experiences I could feel, which are all in pieces. Inevitably, a lot of material, elements are influenced by that age. Fortunately, apart from so-called politics, other contents are also in my work, I believe some could discover it.

Q: Do you think you have stages or series of your work? Compared with your earlier works, do your current works have any differences on forms and themes?
A: Works would not be divided by stages but series. Because my interests point is always changing, accordingly I almost do not have same themes. Additionally, I do not make work based on series. It may be skipped by years. For example, this year’s work may be the same series with the work of the year before last year.

Q: As an installation artist, do you strive to make the large volume work?
A: Making big installation work may be every installation artist’s wish, it could not be said that big means anything, but it could stimulate the passion of artists, make artists exhilaration as they could hold the aura. Square is my first large volume work, it is pity that I did not have the ability to keep them that year. Since I did not have a studio before, after the exhibition, I sold them to the junkyard and only left two pictures. This makes me do not like making big works for a long time. The Second reason is my limited resources at that time. I was not able to complete the work, which was such shame on me. Therefore, I would like to use this chance to finish it and create mutual effects on my current creation, which could also let me see my changes these years.

Q: How space factors influence your creation?
A: I generally have imaginary space and rarely make work based on the specific space. I will have a try if I have a chance in the future. Space is very important to me, what I do is creating an aura by using the space. Installation is the sense of interaction between work and space.

Q: Could you describe your first solo exhibition - "Echo" in ShanghART Beijing?
A: Memory is echo, all substances have echo in time and space. The works of this exhibition have responses of echo from physics and psychologies. Also it is lazy to get this name because it is everywhere.

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