Interviewed by Cao Siyu, 15th March 2016
She says there are lots of things you must do in your life, like having meals, alcohol and sex, but only not working or earning money. She wants to be one of the 1% people making the world looks more lovely. She is a super troublemaker, also an adventurer exploring deep inside to look for answers. Her name is Hu Yinping, one of the most powerful woman appears in my life.
By firmly belief, I had this idea that I was an orphan accidently found by my parents somewhere in a corner
Cao: The exhibition is entitled ‘Identity’. Why is it?
Hu: It was a photo sent to me on WeChat from a long-lost friend in 2012. He thought the woman in that photo was me. My first reaction to this image was ‘Fuck, how on earth could I be that ugly!’ Ha ha, the saying of ‘Identity’ was something following afterwards.
Cao: But then you were obsessed by this ‘awfully ugly’ photo, for what reason?
Hu: No one would forget such a photo in which a subject look so similar to oneself yet so ugly. (laughing) But this might be related to the frustrating-esque education to my childhood. As a child, I was told by my mother that I was found somewhere, instead of being their own. The description was in quite some detail, for instance, how dreadfully was the flood the year I was born, how did they find me in a basket by the river, and how did they bring me home, etc.
Cao: Parents lie.
Hu: Children are not able to identify the truth, but I did verify that it was indeed flooding the year I was born, thus for a long time in my childhood, I had been firmly believing that I was not their child.
I could be anyone with any identity
Cao: You were borne the stamp of years of that story, and did this influence your attitude to this unknown woman?
Hu: To some degree, yes. I think this person is somehow related to me, or hopes to be connected. Therefore, when I looked at this photo again, I found myself observing this woman, rather than dislike her. A mirror is normally for dressing and making up, but if it gave a chance to look inwards, it would suddenly show me a stranger with whom I was quite unfamiliar.
Cao: Indeed, looking at a mirror, this must be careful.
Hu: Ha ha, it is funny to be unfamiliar to myself, and I started to paint self-portraits by looking at the mirror, I wanted to paint the somewhat strange face well. I had my hair styled then, we were pretty alike at that moment. But I had no idea about this person, I can only paint in mono-coloured background, and ended up painting everything directly in mono-coloured, I was open minded.
Cao: Have you tried of other ways to be involved in your imagination?
Hu: It was too dull. I started to do magazine cuttings, pasted her face on people with different identities, tried to figure her identity out, but you would notice those people with new faces are neither her nor me. Each of them could be anyone, a person with any identity.
Cao: All of them make sense?
Hu: Bizarre, I would say. It would be awesome to paste the face onto a female Secretary of the Municipal Committee and imagine myself being a politician, it would also be sexy to paste it onto an AV idol. Substituting a face would make people empathetic.
Copy another woman into me
Cao: That picture’s aesthetic does not look like from our time.
Hu: It is not a daily state, with a lot of imaginations. This person might be very old now, might be from some another country, might be a man, (laughing) but the jacket is a lot Biker than a usual one.
Cao: And you had the answer in this way? About that woman.
Hu: No, painting is much too subjective, it only works with the ‘form’. That photo is so real, and my work could be more realistic. As the information given by the original picture have to be recreated, the jacket
I bought online was mostly unstitched. I made all those things, including badges and things with incomplete information, such as the embroidery patch, which has a word start with the letter P, so I had it embroidered with the word ‘PEACE’, May Peace Prevail On Earth. (laughs)
Cao: You were in.
Hu: Right, styling my hair, taking selfies. But the problem is, I could not take a photo with the exact atmosphere by my own, and I was too skinny to have the apposite weight at the time. The salty water I drank the night before my second shoot successfully caused a swollen face the next day, but my eyes turned out to be a slit. I still did not make it. (laughs) It ended up with my gaining weight plan.
Cao: You were addicted.
Hu: This is quite addictive. I expected to be infinitely close to her whilst shooting, which became my methodology after I made the jacket, which was a task I wanted to do when I finished painting. The most difficult part on shooting was the eyes, I have to understand her state from the bottom of my heart. I was in these selected images closest to her, comparing both of our temperament and state each time. It is subtle, her eyes are confident, indifferent, sharp and steadfast. There is too much information in her photo, and something powerful is behind her face.
Cao: Do you lack something?
Hu: Probably an occupation, female commissar, female doctor, female boss, female leader, female village chief…(laughing)
Cao: You took this image as your ID photo.
Hu: My bag was stolen, I happened to reapply for identification documents. I happened to have her jacket, her hair, her fringe, and I just went to the police office to reapply all of these seriously. (laughs)
Cao: You always make trouble, and you did do this in your other works.
Hu: Many things are constant, like events and information, as our circle is not big. A lot of things are untouchable. Create unexpected chances for yourself.
Cao: You created opportunities lead to unexpected events, and have people involved.
Hu: Everything is an encounter that exists in a large system. You don’t have a choice every time, what you can do is dealing with them in your own way. People can be accidently involved.
Cao: You design works, as if you are the boss with some unseen force behind each plot, and you yourself rarely appear in your own works. You enjoy it? (laughing)
Hu: It’s good to be a boss (laughs). I have a Boss Club, which actually has only one member, i.e. me, and I work for this club to design and employ other people to participate in my events.
Cao: You name your works in date since you accept their properties as events. Hu: I’m not an expert naming an ‘event’. I would say ‘event’ is a movement, and you wouldn’t know what kind of reaction that one movement would cause. It would be reasonable to entitle all of these previous events separately in their happening date.
Cao: Like creating paradoxes? Playing pranks?
Hu: Definitely not pranks. Rules are already there. All I do is adding a bit of difficulty. They call me a ‘troublemaker’.
Cao: ‘Heiqiao Night Away’ is the case.
Hu: If ‘Heiqiao Night Away’ was a game, what I did was only upgrading it at the end. The upgradation was for artists, also for the space and curator, it involves my standpoint.
Cao: Can you talk about the motif?
Hu: Everyone was in utilitarian manner and planning to make something different on the last day of this project ‘Heiqiao Night Away’, which was lasting for a long period of time. So I asked someone to employ two migrant workers to guard at one meter away from the space. They signed the contrast, without knowing who their employer was. They were so responsible that they could even guard with their lives. It turned out to be a conversation between these two workers and everyone else.
Cao: All you did was breaking rules and expecting unexpected moments, including hiring a taxi and keeping it turning left at street corners, and bringing a gas cylinder into a museum.
Hu: ‘Calling Cab’ came from an invitation to exhibit something. I was only given 500 yuan as material fees, which is quite embarrassing, and the exhibition was on a street with heavy traffic. I went to the location, called a cab, asked the driver to keep turning left and that would make a circle. So the car was basically and physically going in circles around the location. ‘Gas Tank’ started with another invitation sent from an art museum. After receiving the elevation and plan of that museum, I asked one of my scientific friends to carefully calculate the right amount of gas that could destroy the whole museum if exploded, inflate a large size gas tank and send it to the museum.
Cao: And the ‘VIP’ project that drove people to the crematorium.
Hu: ‘VIP’ belongs to the Studio Developing Plan originated by Haijie. There is no need to show my studio, thus I asked the driver to wait somewhere for people booked this tour. One person each time. Itinerary and speed was presetted in advance, with one of the stop at Pingfang Crematorium, and back to the start point at the end taking the freeway. Visitors were then curious, angry, doubted or excited, some were also going to break up with me… My idea was simple. Being sent to a crematorium after death is not a rule, it could be done some day when one is still alive, for going to the destination to have a look.
If Everyone was professional, the world would not be lovely anymore.
Cao: You hope to bring these unconventional things into your life, thoughts and even acts, and have more people participated and related.Hu: Our society is too systematic – everyone is professional, has the same values, 99% of them has the one of earning money. Boring people such as me have no need to be that professional then.
Cao: Being an artist means making every effort to be one of the 1% people?
Hu: It’s hard to say how much effort has to be made, but it would be horrible if the whole world was unified. People wouldn’t be lovely if they were all professional.
Cao: Anything else is a must-do for you?
Hu: Too many, eating, pooing, drinking, intercoursing, there are lots of must-dos. I had secretly filmed my parents having sex, as ‘porn’ is resisted in China, and sex is porn, in this logic sex is consequently resisted. But people would congratulate whoever is pregnant. We are ashamed of having sex, but cheer for the result of having sex. The results of having sex are walking on every street, meanwhile ashamed of what made them. Isn’t this bizarre?
Cao: I reckon your parents haven’t known this yet?
Hu: They would take me to court. (laughs)
Translated by Xiaohui Feng