Li Wei was born in Hubei province 1970. In his late teens he moved to Beijing and in 1993 enrolled at the Oriental Arts College to study painting.
Through some financial and artistic struggles, Li Wei taught himself photography and video and by 1997 he had adopted performance art which has become his preferred form of expression. His work often depicts him in apparently gravity-defying situations.
Interview by Dominique Musorrafiti
This is a selected interview from
Planet China Vol. 03 issue
China-underground: What does photography mean to you?
Li Wei: Photography is the most important thing of my artistic expression, and it is part of my religion.
What do you want to communicate with your photo projects?
“The world is flying” is the theme of my photography, fly is the end of the freedom! The body, the nature, the imagination and the thoughts are united!
Wei’s works have been published on the cover of the following magazines: Flash Art, Work, Magazin-Frankfurter Rundschau, Out of the Red, Zoom, Juliet, Contemporary, Theater Forum, NY Arts, Fine Arts Literature, Lapiz and Arte Al Limite.
What keep you inspired?
My inspiration comes from my life, and from my dream, and the growth of my learning from others.
What was the first reaction from the public and critics in China?
They’re shocked by the reality of the Chinese society in my works.
Your photography projects are a mix of gravity photography and performance art. What is the most complicated aspect of the realization?
Gravity is only an expression but not the core of my works. Flying is the core and the freedom of flying. The most complicated thing is how to fly freely, how to use a proper device to make people fly freely, for example, the crane, the plane etc.
His work is a mixture of performance art and photography that creates illusions of a sometimes dangerous reality
Did you face some unexpected moment during your photography projects?
Yes, many, such as the sudden change of the climate, and new ideas to be inserted.
“Li Wei states that these images are not computer montages, but that he uses mirrors, metal wires, scaffolding and acrobatics.” Hemmy
Can you share with us any story behind your photos, that makes them special for you?
I worked with many friends from different backgrounds, but the same thing is the happiness. In 2012, I did a project in South France, and I was hung up in the sky with a yacht, when we’ve finished shooting, I was accidentally fell into the water with the yacht. And I broke 4 ribs. And I laid on the bed in the hospital for one month and thought about the life and art. And I finally realised that what I do is what I like and it is my religion.
Photo courtesy of Li Wei