My art projects and techniques encompass different topics which can be broadly characterized as CONCEPTUAL ART and SOCIAL ART.
Photography as a medium is dominant in my conceptual works. Transcending the realm of just beautiful or emotional photos I explore the frontiers of photography as a conceptual medium: what can be done in photography? where are the borders? are there any borders? These findings are collected in the series called Graphies.
Figments is another path of artistic enquiry. By creating fictional characters and manufacturing material evidence of their existence I explore the potential of the narrative in the territory where fictional and documentary merge.
I am also interested in art as an active social agent being myself involved in several Urban Renewal projects, and doing Documentary Research.
1) Conceptual Photography: Graphies
I explore the frontiers of photography as a conceptual medium, transcending the realm of ‘image just talking for itself’. I explore the frontiers of photography as a conceptual medium: what can be done in photography? where are the borders? are there any borders? These findings are collected in the series called Graphies. The term ‘graphy’ represents something written or represented in the specified manner, or about a specified subject; from the Latin -graphia, from Ancient Greek verb γράφω (gráphō). A description of each graphy is an attempt to create a personal dictionary to classify my work with photography.
In Figments, by creating fictional characters and manufacturing material attributes attesting of their doings I explore the potential of the narrative in the territory where fictional and documentary merge.
Figments is a body of work that contains fictitious entities that are created and presented by me and yet become alive in the audience. Being only fully materialized through this process, the audience are my co-creators. Figments may also be existing but their functions are figmentary.
In a series of works I create fictitious artists, for example Mao Tongyan, who is interested in the real estate crimes happening in China: he invites a prostitute to dress up in a police uniform and go to the crime scene pretending to look for clues. As none of the crimes have been solved so far, he takes a piece of the wall from the crime scene and prints an image on it. The reason for creating a local Chinese artist identity with a certain biography is a certain strive for being a part not an ‘outsider’. It goes along with the assumption that people from within the country are more able to judge the situation as well as the fact that being an outsider you often ‘exploit’ the topic.
Creating a fictitious character is equal to saying “I don’t know what I am” as interaction or even the lack of it keeps changing the person.
3) Installations & Electric Art
Installations combine several media and result in an artwork whose three-dimensional nature is integral with the space surrounding it. The artworks interplay with their presence in the space and time, for example “4 seasons” recreate objects as refrigerator flowers that blossoms in frost and then melt.
Electric Art is defined by the medium – it is a work of art powered by electricity. Each artwork has an individual story justifying the use of electricity for its completion.
4) Urban Renewal
Urban Renewal as a medium refers to site specific projects, where I as an artist interact with city development in order to create art in the street that focuses on exposing local community concerns and creative processes.
Yongkang Lu Art Street – it was an ambitious goal to create an art street. I worked with local property owners and developers to create an Art Street on Yongkang Lu and use art as an integral part of the urban renewal process. Engaging with creative practitioners I utilized otherwise unused and empty spaces on Yongkang Lu for the creation and exhibition of new art. Yongkang Lu was an undeveloped market street, acting as an unofficial wet-market in the center of the French concession, but now is a home to a cosmopolitan mix of restaurants, bars, galleries and businesses. This process of urban renewal and gentrification has created one of Shanghai’s coolest cultural hotspots. The French concession is full of other less successful and more ‘forced’ developments; areas such as Sinan Mansion are full of corporate brands but are devoid of people. In contrast, Yongkang Lu is always busy, its new businesses are less corporate, more intimate small venues run by local and international entrepreneurs.
The success of the project stems from the way the process was approached, it was organic in nature, engaging local businesses and property owners and the local arts network to build a creative buzz, thereby creating a ‘scene’ first, the development and renewal was a natural process subsequently. Community Hospital – an Urban Renewal Project on Yuyuan road in Shanghai where a former Community Hospital is turned into an Art Space while maintaining the conceptual schema of the hospital – inviting an artist with a ‘problem’ that needs to be brought to hospital.
Babel Me – a concept where Zane initially set up her exhibition in Shanghai Glass museum and invited twenty other artists to explore the topic. Being art as such it is also a research to find out how the Glass museum has been affecting local communities. Project Babel Me addresses the new forms of art and how they are able to reach the local communities.
5) Documentary Research
Documentary Research is an on-site research work, supported by text, images and objects. One example of documentary research is work on Jiaozhou Road accident where Zane Mellupe from the first day of the accident for a period of 30 days after it revisits the site as well as follows the media coverage of the topic while simultaneously doing a call for artists to hear their opinion about the topic.