Jiaqi Wang is an award winning animation artist from China. Her beautiful films are hard hitting and often explore hard to tackle subjects in a beautifully illustrated style.
2.3 x 2.6 x 3.2
RF: Hey Jiaqi, Thanks for sharing your work. I personally have always been a massive fan, you have a beautiful playful style yet it maintains a level of depth and texture that really makes it your own. Have you always been into animation or did you come from an illustration background and then start to bring life to your drawings?
Jiaqi: Hey Jim Thanks for the interview! I was doing illustrations before. Before the BA in Beijing, I learned sketching and oil paintings in a drawing studio. Then I go to university to study animation, but they also gave us other trainings, like book making and typography training.
RF: Where did you grow up and how did your surroundings influence your work?
Jiaqi: I grew up in Beijing. Yes the surroundings influenced me a lot, especially the traditional architecture and costumes.
RF: Your film 2.3×2.6×3.2 is a very personal story inspired by health issues within your family as well as an item from the Welcome Collection archives. Would you be able to tell us a bit about the project and how you were inspired with the idea.
Jiaqi: This project is based on the Welcome Collection Museum. A filmmaker needs to choose an object from the museum and make a film based on it.
Kareau is a wooden figure from the Nicobar Islands. It was set up, put outside a sick person’s house to scare and drive away from the bad spirits thought to be causing the disease.
This film is for my aunt, she had breast cancer last year. I was depressed and did not know how to help her. When I went to the Welcome Collection Museum, I found this wooden figure in the center of the room, and I was interested in it’s healing power to the people living on the Nicobar Islands. (That is how I start to want to make this film.)
I’m trying to discuss the certainty of hope (Kareau) and uncertainty of disease (Cancer) in this film. Without the support of belief, what is the percentage of faith for people? If the survival rate of cancer patients is 99%, then this 1% is a psychological torment for patients. Comparing the tribal people’s firm belief in healing totems, can we use this belief to make up for this 1% gap? If this exists, it will be an unpredictable comfort for the patient – the high 1% comfort.
After deciding to make this film, I interviewed my aunt and wrote a monologue based on her speaking. Then I sent it back to her, and she changed some words to make it more encouraging. Then I decided to use her script version and used her voice in my film.
In the film, I draw myself as a tapir, and I try to make my aunt get better by making the film. This comes from an idea of Mise en Abyme (Injecting self- reflexivity into the film.) Because Kareau is not just a documentary animation about a cancer patient, but also a ritual for me to cure my aunt.
In general, I hope this film could let the audience feel the possible balance between hope and death, and to understand patients’ suffering and struggling, and the importance of hope for them.
RF: Are there any artists who particularly inspire you and any other short films that you would like to share?
Jiaqi: My favourite artist is Luigi Serafini. His Codex Seraphinianus is an amazing book, it always could bring me some great ideas.
I want to share the film: Cat Soup.But my favourite film is: Krtek hahaha
RF: Due to the pandemic you have had to delay your studies at the Royal College of Art slightly, has this benefited the creative process by giving you another year to think? How is your next project going?
Jiaqi: Yes It gave me more time to make my film under a student title. My grad film has been finished, now I’m planning a new film, I will put more ink paintings into the next project 🙂
RF: Wishing you all the best Jiaqi! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, see you soon! X