Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:
Genre-defying Brooklyn musician Fatima Al Qadiri: “Timur Si-Qin’s work half espouses the language of marketing technology and half mines a quarry of medieval artefacts, creating an amalgamation of sterile and ancient that’s familiar yet wholly alien.”
Berlin-based multimedia artist Timur Si-Qin explores the universality of aesthetic motifs in advertisements. For his series Axe Effect, he impaled Axe-branded men’s shower-gel bottles on medieval swords, causing them to bleed neon fluids. It was his way of symbolising the “violent and erotic inter-penetration of the arms race and the mating call in the guise of
Si-Qin’s fascination with the repetitious nature of advertisements and stock photography may partly come from his worldly upbringing. He was born in Berlin but spent a portion of his childhood with his grandmother in Beijing and lived in Tucson, Arizona, as a teenager. His ex-stepfather introduced him to Native American culture; he recalls sweat-lodge ceremonies and sun dances at which men had their pectoral muscles pierced by eagles’ talons and were then suspended by their flesh until they tore through.
“The advantage of growing up in these different cultures is that you see what it is about social behaviour that is specific to any given culture, and what is more universal,” Si-Qin says. “I use stock images in my work and it’s like being on the trail of universality – finding images that seem to be effective cross-culturally and taking that as evidence of a common biology or as evidence for a shared past.”
I’m interested in the deep past, the causal chain of events that goes into contemporary image culture
His works are futuristic yet familiar in an almost disturbing way, echoing the likes of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. “I’m interested in the deep past, the causal chain of events that goes into contemporary image culture,” he explains. Another series, Infinite Surrender, Focused Control, saw destroyed yoga mats suspended on walls, alongside images of women’s faces airbrushed to perfection.
“Female faces key into neurological modules for facial recognition,” he argues. “What’s interesting is how the female face emphasises the gender dismorphism humans have when it comes to facial advertisement imagery. Studies show that attractive female faces stick in the memory longer. It’s not just true for men, it’s also true for women – the advertisement is always more effective with a female face. Why is that?” Si-Qin’s work may create more questions than answers, but isn’t that the point?