For transdisciplinary artist Cyshimi, nail art isn’t just decoration that adorns the body. Instead, their ornate nail sculptures, which extend out from the fingers in startling, unconventional forms, are augmentations that alter and shape the performativity of the body.
Born and raised in Brazil to Taiwanese and Chinese immigrant parents, Cyshimi grew up feeling different, and their art became a way to work through these experiences of alienation. Spanning sculpture, digital art, installation and performance, Cyshimi’s creations explore themes of ancestry and identity and raise questions of hegemonic beauty standards. Echoes of the long pinky fingernail, a tradition among Chinese men which dates back to the country’s dynastic days, for example, can be seen in the sheer length of Cyshimi’s nail creations.
“A lot of my work seeks to reveal that historically, nails are a strong symbol of resistance, empowerment and identity,” they told Dazed. “Having them is also a way of celebrating plurality and diversity of bodies, where oftentimes it’s imagined that there’s one possible way of living, when there are actually infinite others."
Recently, Cyshimi has been transgressing the boundaries of IRL art to experiment with the digital. For their piece “Jungle Walker”, they created sculptural biomorphic nails inspired by natural textures and photographed them in front of a forest on a TV screen. From 3D art to 2D image, the piece then became crypto-art via NFT, their first minted piece. “I’m really proud of it,” they say.
Text Alex Peters