With work so complex yet so fragile, it’s no wonder that Yi Dai, the 23-year old student of Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, has been announced as the winner of the REcreative Kusama-themed competition, in association with The Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project. Dai’s delicately manipulated 'Pure Land' portrays the fragile balance between the chaotic quality of nature and the orderly tendency of the human mind. Her piece consists of layer upon layer of manipulated paper fragments which have been distressed by the juxtapositional elements of fire and water, and the meticulous organisation of Yi Dai’s piece uniquely highlights the theme of the project: ‘obsession’.
Dazed Digital: What inspired you about the theme of obsession? Yi Dai: Obsession has always been one of the tendencies in my own works, so it was quite a coincidence with the theme of this competition.
DD: What techniques did you use and why? Yi Dai: Each dot is made by a water drop on paper and burning the paper with fire, which dissolves the dry parts and traces around the wet spot, leaving charred edges and sometimes smoke stains. The technique of constructing this piece might seem a bit idiosyncratic, but I personally see the process of construction as part of the poetics and concept in my art, and the techniques employed should speak for the philosophy behind any piece of art. The meaning of burning in many Asian cultures is not only a ritual activity but also a way of communicating with the death and sending the spirit back into nature. On the other hand, fire and water are two opposite elements of nature, and the work itself is “painted” by the harmonisation of these two natural elements rather than direct control of the artist.
DD: What do you hope to evoke in the viewer of Pure Land? Yi Dai: When I make art, I simply hope to share my mind with others, and it’s great to hear if any work has moved another person even on a small scale. I can never hope to evoke any specific things in the viewers, but use art as a visual form of sharing. My works are often open-ended visually, but I believe there is often a subtle, enigmatic, taciturn, visual communication between my mind and the viewer’s mind, when they stand in front of my work.