How is our identity challenged and freed in another culture?

How is our identity challenged and freed in another culture? (q&a)

A collaboration between Alex Nichols and Qinmin Liu, performed in the San Francisco Bay.

Hard questions of assimilation and identity are sometimes best attacked at a slant. Qinmin is born and raised in China. She comes to USA “I feel more American than Chinese” she says. Qinmin and I talk about how it is easier to move with a current of another culture than it is to move against the current of our own culture.

We both use our bodies as the vehichle of expression in our art. But how we use our bodies and how we make our decisions is radically different. I learn about my decisions by watching Qinmin make her decisions. It’s a unique mirror into myself as a female artist, as the subject of my work. I am able to reflect on myself in time and it is like proposing a hypothesis and knowing one outcome but not another. Thinking about who I thought I was then and now.

Working side by side with Qinmin challenges me to question my narrative, my values, my goals. How do our decisions impact our work, our marriages, our careers, our personal relationships and our relationship to the public and ourselves. This is a process of observation and reflection. It is a deeply personal context of learning about my decisions around my art in terms of marriage, and family.

With that idea, Alex and Qinmin built rafts and clear five foot boxes and launched themselves into deep waters, each raft embedded with our own personal meanings. Caught in the tides and power of the water in the bay we move between the playful and the urgent.

Alex Nichols is born in the US and Qinmin is born in China. Both female artist looking at the way identity is formed by culture. How is our identity challenged and freed in another culture? On June 3 2017 Alex and Qinmin set their rafts in the San Francisco bay, as a performance. Together with eight kayakers they set out at Pier 40 with their plexiglass boxes and eight foot rafts on the San Francisco Bay. Each female artist inhabiting the invisible elements of who they are.



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