“Our knowledge has made us cynical
Our cleverness, hard and unkind
We think too much, and feel too little
More than machinery, we need humanity
More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness
Without these qualities, life will be violent, and all will be lost”
My name is Li Chuqiao, and also Chloe Li in English, and also Li Sokyo in Japanese. The modern age allows me to travel, study and live in different countries and offers me various names and identities. As I shifted between cultural and political environments, I realized the ambiguity of national identity and the fragility of human civilization. My works focus on language, texts and visual symbols, and their relationships with culture, humanity and identities.
In 2021, I moved back to China for a year. With the rising censorship and nationalism, I find myself having problems fitting into the Chinese nationalist narrative as a Chinese. I started to receive threatening letters, harassing messages for criticizing the government. My Wechat account also was reported and disabled for “against national security.” When we spend most of our energy avoiding the police and censorship, we knew we were dealing with fear. When living in fear for too long, people tend to be numb. When living in a world with controlled media for too long, people’s view towards the world would be twisted. Under this circumstance, it is the artists’ duty to restore people’s ability to feel. Being able to feel is the key to guarding the bottom lines of humanity.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19, nations around the world started to operate in survival mode, striving to find the “best solution” for “the greater good.” However, there is not always a “best solution,” but always a bottom line. Artists’ job is not searching for “the best solution,” but protecting the bottom line. I want my work to be as specific, as honest, as humble as possible. In my studio, there is no absolute truth, no best solutions, no exaggeration on human power, but only understanding and empathy towards the underprivileged, only reflections on modernity, only spaces to feel, gently.