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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Amy Li - 00:00 (Zero Hour)

Jan 09, 2019

News, memes, advertisements, aspirational lifestyles, destinations to visit, and many, many, many plates of food flood our daily lives. This is the other side to consumption, to seeing. 

I started this project in 2014, during a time where I was thinking about the consumption of images, the space in which it occupies, and its psychological effects tied to memory. We look at images to understand the outside world as well as our inner worlds but I find that this form of dependency becomes like a double-edged sword. I question the seduction of looking. We accumulate these images, these memories, the good and the bad, and they last forever. It can be comforting and traumatic. Each photo functions as a personal memory and the collective memory. Normal scenes of life look surreal. The past and present becomes blurred. 

The photos in this series depict a world that obstructs time and space. I created this world to correlate how most people view images – the internet. We travel through these spaces with an attempt to make sense of the world. It becomes distant, senseless looking. Family photo albums are universally all the same – it showcases life; our humanity. Pictures of loved ones, major life events, vacations, holidays. But these photos are the opposite. We’ve become bombarded by images of desire, terror, tragedy, banality, gluttony, and hedonism. It’s like opening Pandora’s box.  


Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Double meanings and time travel

Jan 16, 2019 - Amy Li

Duality is a driving force in my work. I utilize light and shadow as a form of balance. Balance is important. The Chinese believe the universe is structured this way. Human nature is similar. We have our good side and our bad side. We never want to see the bad side but it lingers in all of us.

With this series, I travel back in time to my past by linking news events and commercial imagery. I found that watching and reading about certain news stories triggered me. It made me remember my past but all I want to do is forget. But I look and I travel through this space anyway.

 

A bright full moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese holiday that celebrates the moon for its many significant cultural uses (example: the lunar calendar). A photo of a body of water reminds me of a near-death incident where I almost drowned and a water crisis. An postcard-like picture of the Pacific Coastline shows a barren landscape of Los Angeles. The boy with the gold necklace makes me think of an old friend who died tragically years ago while also resembling a jewelry advertisement. Pictures of psychedelics (a tab of acid, some mushrooms) to mimic product e-commerce imagery as well as a gateway to go into a different world. A fence reminds me of my childhood neighbors and immigration border control. Dead houseplant leaves and the seasons changing. Pieces of fruit remind me of food offerings left for the deceased at a Buddhist temple and as well as our appetites for consumption. Two anonymous figures selling a python snake and the snake quietly looks at you. The fourth wall as a handball court – a NYC sport I grew up knowing very well.

When I think about double meanings and time travel, my mind thinks of circles. Life and death. Light and shadow. Good and bad. Yin and yang.


Grand Canyon, AZ by David Graham

Influences

- Amy Li

I studied photography at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Irving Penn was an alumni. Back then it was called the Philadelphia College of Art. David Graham was my teacher and taught me how to see the world in color. His work explores the use of symbols in the American landscape. His teacher was Ray Metzker, who also taught at UArts many years ago. Ray Metzker’s use of lines and shadows showed me how to manipulate reality.

 

I worked at a photo agency sometime after moving to NYC and that is where I discovered work by the likes of Mauricio Alejo, Olaf Blecker, Christian Stoll, and my good friend Romain Laurent. All of these artists, while very different from each other, influenced me in some way. Mauricio and his everyday objects. Olaf’s stylized portraiture. Christian’s technical epic environments. Romain’s alternate realities.

 

But my biggest influences?

 

Nadav Kander and his psychological photos. Lieko Shiga and the mysterious universe she creates. Taryn Simon for her curiosity and intellect.

 


Books

Jan 15, 2019 - Amy Li

Here is a list of books that I like.

1. “These Green Going-To-Yellow” by Marvin Bell

2. “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

3. “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu

4. “Cultural Literacy” by E. D. Hirsch Jr.

5. The Camera: “Essence and Apparatus” by Victor Burgin

6. A Show of Hands: “Photographs from the Collection of Henry Buhl” by Sotheby’s

“Handbook of Tyranny” by Theo Deutinger


Time and Space

Jan 14, 2019 - Amy Li

Time is what dictates life and death.

 

A friend that I’ve known since I was 17, told me years ago that he has cancer. His health was declining. He wanted to run from death. He also had mounting medical bills to pay. In America, if you want to live, you have to pay a high price. So into the shadows he goes.. He is still alive but the bills get higher.

The Stephen Hawking book I included on my Book list? Yeah, that’s his. 

 

I once encountered a framed photo of a mushroom cloud hanging in an ex’s apartment in Philly. Their apartment was across the street from David Lynch’s old home. I asked them what it was. They told me that their grandfather had worked on the Manhattan Project. As a woman of Asian decent, I found this troubling. 

 

The GIF and framed photo of a clock is from 2015.




The egg, the chicken, Kanye West and Nike

Jan 13, 2019 - Amy Li

One morning, I was making breakfast and while I watched the eggs cook on the stove, I started to think about which came first. Was it the chicken or was it the egg? It is an age old paradox. The chicken cannot exist without the egg. And the egg cannot exist without a chicken laying on it.

 

Back in April 2018, I received a text from my best friend Jin, who lives in Portland, Oregon. She had sent me a screenshot of an Instagram post of a screenshot of Kanye West’s tweet. An image within an image. Meta theater.

 

The tweet was a diss at the brand new Nike M2K Tekno sneaker. Jin designed the shoe. It was her first big release.

 

“So Kanye West has a problem with me”.  I laughed at how absurd this whole thing was. It felt surreal.

 

What a time to be alive.

 

After all, any sneakerhead will know that the Nike M2K Tekno is based on the Nike Air Monarch aka the original. Time doesn’t lie. 

 

In the end, none of this shit matters. Who cares.



Flying

Jan 12, 2019 - Amy Li

Something strange happens when you travel – you start to contemplate. It’s just you and your thoughts and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a nice view of the world below. Is this heaven? I watch the clouds go by. They drift, just like my thoughts. In Chinese, the word for universe is a combination of ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’. I’ve always wanted to go into space. But this picture will do for now.