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The self-portraits of Chinese performance artist and photographer Li Wei tend to astound; his relationship with gravity is not exactly predictable. Using mirrors, cables, wires and other tools, the artist produces sublime surprises. As he notes in our chat below, "I don’t consider danger very often when doing art."

Li Wei lives and works in Beijing, China. All photos © Li Wei, courtesy of the artist, all rights reserved.

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Some are your photographs are outright shocking. How important is a sense of danger to your pictures?

I don’t consider danger very often when doing art. The only thing I wanna do when shooting is to express myself well. Also the process of making art is a part of my work, too, giving me a new way of thinking. So danger is only an aspect of my work, though not for every piece.

What are your feelings about gravity?

Gravity shows a condition of instability—dangerous and unequaled. Sometimes irresistible.

How do your photographs begin?

I studied oil painting as my major, and then I met East Village artists like Zhang Huan. So performance art was my first way of making art. Then I turned myself to photos.

Do you think of yourself more as a photographer or as a performance artist?

Whether photographer or performance artist is not important to me. The feeling and the thoughts of doing art are more important. And I’ll also do art between these two medias, too. After each live performance I’ll shoot a photograph for it.

Your pictures are full of yearning, a desire to be apart. Is this reflective of your life in Beijing, or is it more universal?

It’s more universal; it’s the exact reflection of living conditions of myself. Or to say, the condition of human beings.

What are you working on now?

I’m preparing two projects for art museums right now. Also I’m trying to get myself to [do] three-dimensional animation. And statues of crashed mirrors. They are a new dimension of my art.



Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin