Amy Xian Luo – Alumna GS 15 – China
Tell us a little about your work?
I have completed two main projects at ICP. One project is entitled I Shall Depart As I Arrived, which is a series of photographs depicting people’s dreams. The process involves my collaborating with my subjects in reconstructing one of their most vivid dreams. The other project, Sorry My Angels, is a video installation. It started as a documentation of a massage parlor in Flushing, Queens, where a group of illegal Chinese immigrants work daily. My project investigates the way in which these women inhabit this enclosed and shared space, which seems simultaneously public and private, mental and physical.
Although they may seem very disparate, both projects stem from my interest in exploring new ways of representing subjectivity, which was my focus of research when I was studying cinema in Paris. Influenced by many European feminist filmmakers, I am also very interested in cutting loose conventional visual frames. My passion for re-inventing visual language has also made its way into both projects.
What impact has the experience of going through the ICP General Studies Program had on you?
Studying at the General Studies program at ICP has had a tremendous impact on me. Before ICP, most of my previous works were straight documentaries, as I have worked as a journalist in China. I came to ICP with relatively little experience in photography and I have embraced this new visual language whole heartedly.
Thought-provoking seminars opened our eyes to various art concepts and technical classes provided necessary tools for our creation, greatly enriching our visual vocabularies. I was thrilled to find new ways to weld fictitious narratives in my work that were still very much rooted in reality. The combination of the reality and fiction has created an interesting dynamic in my work.
Among many other things, what ICP has taught me is to be reckless, it taught me that if I allow myself to break constraints and venture into the unknown, I could achieve many things I would never have dreamt possible.
What was it like working with video for your project, Sorry My Angels – Did ICP provide you all the skills to work in this medium?
Photography and cinema are two very different visual languages, but they can complement and enrich each other in various ways. The generous support from the GS faculty has helped me carve this video piece into something that shares the core qualities of both languages.
Abigail Simon, Jen Davis, Jean Marie Casbarian and Robert Blake, who are experts in both photography and video arts, have encouraged me to break loose from conventions and to think differently.
Frank Franca, who is hailed as the king of lighting, has taught me indispensable techniques and aesthetics without which the project would have fallen short of its visual impact. Per Gylfe, who is the master of fine art printing, has taught us essential ways to decode some of the greatest art works and to appropriate elements to forge our own visual style.
What would you say to people considering applying to the General Studies program?
You need to decide for yourself what you aim to achieve through this year because what awaits you is a mind-blowing and all-encompassing experience. The earlier you can tailor the program to your own need, the better you’ll become. Good Luck!