Beijing-based photographer Huang Jiaqi considers the meaning of boundaries in a Dazed-commissioned artwork for Burberry
To celebrate the launch of Burberry’s Monogram puffer collection, Dazed partnered with the iconic British brand to spotlight young pioneers breaking boundaries across the globe. We asked four creatives to make a piece of work which responds to the ideas of boundlessness, weightlessness and freedom, all exhibited in a digital gallery.
“I always wanted to fly,” self-taught photographer Huang Jiaqi admits. “When I learnt that Boundless was about weightlessness, I felt that it was time.” This might be the China-based artist’s first airborne voyage, but he is no stranger to the complexities that come with being suspended in mid-air. Jiaqi’s ongoing project, Be Your Own Light, is a series of self-portraits which depict the artist tied up with ropes and suspended. The series, Jiaqi comments, revolves around “the idea of control, letting go and exploring the boundaries we build around ourselves.”
We caught up with Huang Jiaqi to discover what he would do in a world without boundaries and how we got over his fear of flying.
Tell us about your creative background. Did you study photography or art?
Huang Jiaqi: I have never studied photography or art, nor was there a time that I ‘decided’ to become an artist. I am just doing what I want to do, and I’m only expressing the subtle things that I observe in my life. Photography is my only a way of doing that.
Who, or what, inspires your practice?
Huang Jiaqi: My inspirations come from my life, they are like seeds in my heart that I sowed a long time ago. They gradually grow and sprout, and become an art piece.
Why did you choose to focus on the idea of flight for Boundless?
Huang Jiaqi: I have always been longing to fly. When I saw the down jacket by Burberry, I pulled the ‘flying’ element out from my memory, and wanted to express this feeling. I think this is my longing for an unrestrained status, and this wish of mine surpasses my fear, so it’s worth doing it - flying – even for just one second.
Do you have any routines that give shape to your creative practise?
Huang Jiaqi: Getting out of my comfort zone is always the first thing. Even a tiny bit, so the unknown will come with it.
What would you do in a world without boundaries?
Huang Jiaqi: I actually think that this world doesn’t have boundaries anyway – all the boundaries come from within. People always say we need to ‘break boundaries’ or ‘go see the world outside’, but there’s no such thing in the very beginning because there’s only one world.
What does freedom look, sound and feel like to you?
Huang Jiaqi: I don't know. I just hope it can always smell like the air at 6am.
When was the last time you felt weightless?
Huang Jiaqi: When I gave away everything in my house. When I got support from people I care about.
What excites you about Riccardo Tisci’s vision for Burberry?
Huang Jiaqi: I think a lot of thoughts that Riccardo has are quite real, and they speak to me. I feel it’s easier to ‘touch’ a lot of his ideas directly.