AWAKE IN THE WESTERN DREAM
Angela Xie & Jing Ma Interview by Javier Melian, www.chrom-art.org co-founder for www.thepalettepages.com
“A Man from a Hot Country” is the current installation over two floors at the wonderfully peculiar ‘Hundred Years Gallery’ in Hoxton, that specialises in unseen, alternative Art with a social background. It tells a story of an illegal immigrant; an artist who moves to London and sells counterfeit designer goods to make a living. The minds and hearts behind the idea are young Chinese Art students Angela Xie and Jing Ma who now live in London but met during their A-Levels in Surrey. Angela is from Guangdong from a family of five siblings!. Jing has a brother. Jing paints and Angela does installations and immersive theatre. The represent the new China.
Jing paints landscapes and plants. Angela had the installation idea inspired on the simplicity of Jing’s work. “This mind is simpler, lighter” referring to the immigrant. “In western culture ‘the man from the hot country’ would have no status at all, no identity but he doesn’t need them. The exhibition’s basement is a parallel reality to the one we live in. This character doesn’t need labels but he is not against the material world either as he sells fake bags for living. All he wants is to paint, to exist. He is a happy man that paints because that is his purpose, not because he wants to be successful. As he comes from a very poor country he needs a different setting to paint but he might leave soon or stay here forever. The moral of the story is that failure is a consequence of life, and so is success, and both don’t matter”.
Angela’s work explore issues around social status and other ways of identification with form that remove us from a state of neutrality. “When I perform I am
aware of my own thinking, aware of my consciousness” and she wants the audience to experience that too. In her previous installation, she performed as a maid that would diligently serve to
strangers in front of a mirror so they could witness their own reactions. Embarrassment, awkwardness, even pride could emerge from egos busted by this feeling of importance and superiority. “It
all depends if they feel they deserve this treatment or not” points Angela.
“In modern society, having all these labels are important to have a good life. Everything is so stablished, so legal. This person is so abnormal in a social way and this underground room where he
lives is a metaphor for the unacceptability of his label-less existence. This place is an utopia”.
“Chinese people are all trying to be western. Is is a symbol of a higher class”. Her parents, says Angela, only appreciate the mainstream: going to a good school, marrying a rich man.
Everything has to be nice and decent, not provocative. Her parents might dissagree with the world but do not want to change it either. She both hates and loves traditional values and they bring
on a life that is physically and psychically easier but very limited; “It’s like the world is square, and if you move towards the edges you might fall from it forever”. Her parents didn’t want
her to do Art as it isn’t considered a lucrative business, but they are now not against her being an artist as this is seen as feminine and intelligent. Angela feels freer in the west in so may
ways, as so many of her standards come from her parents.
“I don’t want to become an artist. I don’t want to put that label on myself. I only want to make art when I feel the inspiration, without the pressure to make up something to sell. I plan to make
a living doing something simple on aesthetics, like interior design. Working with beautiful things is so much easier than making art, which is such a struggle. I am not even trying to make
money out of it as I don’t want to be influenced by anything or compromise, as I would do with a normal job”.
I finish the interview with Angela and I feel I’ve been through one of her immersive installations. I am lost in thought. The Western Dream doesn’t need that label either. It is probably The
Dream, the degree of separation between what a man is and the fabricated lies we call ‘living’.
Self-taught or art school?
A: I am studying in Camberwell College of Art.
J: I would say a mix of both. Although I have done A level art and I am currently studying at the Slade, and of course I have been taught for some very basic skills at high school, for example how to use certain technique in printing, how to use tools for sculptures. However for my painting, I feel that I have developed it on my own, especially after I got into the slade, the study is very independent.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
A: Painting ‘Former Indoor Bathroom’by Gaia Fugazza, a Chelsea graduate, unfortunately I cannot afford it
J: I can not think of any right now. I don’t usually have a desire to own any art.
How would you describe your style?
A: I focus on the atmosphere and message that brings out to the audience, my inspirations come from everyday life phenomenon and settings: my previous performance and installation ‘a habit’ showcased a crying girl in a confined 3 meters long lavatory and in another installation ‘the superior corner’ performed as a traditional maid serving‘guests’ assorted fancy refreshment where the guest sits in front of a mirror.
J: I can only put it into words: Expressd Colourful Energetic Abstract Emotional Instinctive
What are your favorite places to view art?
A: White cube bermondsey, because it’s near my home and never crowdy
J: Musee de I’Orangerie in Paris and the National Gallery in London. These two are my favorites, besides the Rothko room in Tate Modern. Small galleries near Royal Academy are interesting as well.
Who are your favorite artists and why?
A: Elmgreen & Dragset, because they deal with social taboos, provocative without provocative images
J: It is difficult to say who is my favorite artist because different artists influence me in different ways. Georgia O’Keefe was the artist who has led me into the art world, her thoughts on art and the nature has inspired me a lot, but I am not a huge fan of her works. Anselm Kiefer has inspired me a lot of the manipulation of materials and colour, especially some of his most recent works. Other artists that I like including Picasso, Van gogh Rose Wiley and Philip Guston.
What or who inspires your art?
A: Elmgreen and Dragset, and my mental struggles
J: I have talked about the artists inspires me in my art. Besides that I am also inspired by the surrounding, as I have mentioned before my immediate environment, for instance where I live, the studio that I am working at, the books that I read, flowers that I plant, things that I have experienced…
Where’s your studio and what is it like?
I work at my studio at school, I study at the Slade school of fine art, it’s in UCL, and I share the studio with other painting students. There are paintings everywhere in the studio and students are influencing each other.
Do you have any studio rituals?
Not really, accept I have to turn the paintings that I have finished or I am not currently working on backwards so it is less likely to influence the painting that I am working on at the moment. Ideally I would not like any imagery around me when I am painting.
What are you working on currently?
A: My degree show, probably of a hotel room setting
Where can we buy your art?
A: I don’t have any art available to sell
J: Hundred Years Gallery in London
Or email me if people are interested buying my art. my email address is:Jingmalalala@gmail.com Or follow my instagram I post new paintings on it: Jingmalalala
What are your ambitions?
J: Keep painting and involving in art, keep challenging myself. Never forgot my passion in painting