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Get to know: Yafei Qi



Oslo-based artist Yafei Qi chose to study film- and video art as a rebellious decision. We have talked to Yafei about her upcoming video commission for Atelier Nord, why she dislikes to be labeled a "professional artist" and the importance of being both radical and patient as a young artist.
Yafei Qi. Photo: Andrea Kathedert

What kind of art do you make?

I make video and photography.

What made you start making video works?

I studied Film and Video Art with my bachelors during 2007-2011. To choose to study filmmaking was kind of a rebellious decision, so that I could do something else besides painting. I felt exhausted after few years working for several directors for their feature movies. So I continued my study at Bergen Academy of Art and design and took my Master degree in 2014-16. Since then I have been focusing on doing my own short movies with a small group of people. It has never been a big budget production in my case, but it gives me the possibility of having full control of my work during the whole process.

Yafei Qi - Sleep Walker, 2019. From the photographic series Sitting all alone.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional artist?

I have never understood what is a “professional artist” and I never wanted to be a “professional artist”. In my opinion, artists should not be classified as any social profession, nor should they be hierarchical.

What are the best and worst parts of being an artist?

One of the best parts of being an artist is that you can be in a variety of struggles, between rational and emotional; political and personal; truth and falsity and so on. Pass through those struggles will enrich your life. You will also gain the ability to create your own little world, where it can be quiet and your voice can be set free. The worst part is that those struggles could be very demanding. You will often feel helpless and disappointed of yourself by seeing the dark side of the world.

Film stills from Wearing the Fog by Yafei Qi, 2016.

Do you have a work or an artist that has been especially important to you?

The Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, the filmmaker Roy Andersson and Michael Haneke, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, the photographer Joel Sternfeld and Stephen Shore.

In 2022 you are showing new work at Atelier Nord in Oslo. What are you working on for this show?

I am currently working on the script of a video installation. The video focuses on a person’s existences in three days in his daily routine. It offers a critical look into the ideas and practice of "state individualism”. The aim is to capture the restlessness, fear, excitement, helplessness, frustration and confusion in life, to discover the causes of alienation and loneliness. It is inspired by the movie “JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES”, directed by Chantal Akerman and our present time during the epidemic.

Installation view of the work The 2ed half of the dream, 2020, by Yafei Qi at AArtist in Residence - A program of the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the State Association of Berlin Galleries (lvbg).

What advice do you have for young people who want to become artists?

Be radical and be patient.


Ønsker du å studere fotografi eller vil du studere videokunst og film? Les mer om Oslo Fotokunstskole og søk skoleplassfor heltids- og deltidsstudium (kveld). Skolen tilbyr undervisning i de to linjene «fotografi» og «film- og videokunst». Skolen tilbyr også fotokurs. Oslo Fotokunstskole er en fotoskole i Oslo for deg som ønsker å utforske dine kreative evner i et engasjerende og dynamisk miljø. Skolen ble etablert i 1989 og holder til i velutstyrte lokaler ved Alexander Kiellands Plass. Les mer om hvordan du kan starte din fotoutdanning eller

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