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Check Out Yan Jin’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yan Jin.

Hi Yan, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’m an interdisciplinary artist, I do photographs, video and multi-media installations. Before I came to U.S., I had my bachelor’s degree in French as a foreign language. During my undergraduate, I went to France as an exchange student and spent a semester there. I lived with a friend who was very keen on photography at that point. She definitely had a certain influence on me. After I came back, I started shooting with a film camera, for a whole five or six years I shot with a Bronica sq-ai until it broke during a trip. In 2018, I started my MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, Photography, Video and Related Media department and received my master’s degree there and that was the start of my artist career.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
To me, the process of making art is a constant dialogue with myself. The struggle is always about how to present part of yourself to the outside world and be ready for any critique you may receive. Many of my pieces are inspired by personal traumatic experiences so sometimes it’s just not easy to deal with them. However meanwhile, I don’t think an artist can lie to herself. My video essay Cremeschnitte explores the dialectical relationships among language, culture and geopolitics, how language is constructed and restructured by culture, as well as how cultural heritage transcends the border and constraints within ethnic or social groups. It’s based on a true story but I intentionally blur the line between fiction and documentary. Working on this video almost feels like a therapeutic process. I edited the first version then I stood back and took another look after leaving it untouched for several months. Exactly what I would do to process my emotions: to understand, to make sense of, and to accept.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My work keeps posing questions and challenging the notions we take for granted. I constantly redefine the found photo and found objects by various procedures including scanning, retouching, erasing, etc, blurring the gaps between presence and absence and bringing disparate binaries in dialogue with one another. I’m obsessed with working with found objects because they are so banal, boring, and usually don’t catch any attention. But I believe the aspects of things that are most important are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. For me, I’d like to reveal that with my work and make people aware and think about them again. Besides, working with found objects allow me to imbed complex ideas in simple however unexpected visual presentations that literally stop the viewer in contemplation, also, to touch the untouchable concepts such as memory, loss, time and other ineffable qualities in life.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Every new experiment, every attempt, every idea, every sparkle, every failure, all these make me happy, keep me energized and eager to try more. I feel alive in making art. I wish you all do.

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