Interview – michelle corinne liu – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency


You are an artist, wannabe dj…When did you first become interested in all these forms of art? And how did you start experimenting with different mediums? 

Art for me is very close to everyday life. They can often be mistaken for one another. It’s an interesting kind of a moment of feeling cognisant of some kind of magic in the ordinary… which shifts the whole world. This feeling can come from any medium, any activity, any conversation, even when you are not looking for it.  Often i sit with something for a long time and try to understand it through some structure, but when i actually start working i rely a lot on intuition and touch and the structure changes. I like working with very simple materials.  I’m not very technical and i tend to move from one thing to another quickly, as the connections come up. I think of my work as sketches, so it’s all quite ephemeral and i don’t feel attached to any one medium. I don’t think i experiment with different mediums as much as i would like however.

How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?

I took a very long break from having an active practice and i’m only beginning to learn about my practice again. Now i just want to try everything, which is a nice place to be i think.  I want to learn to feel good in making a mess. this residency has been really valuable in that sense, because everyone is so supportive and encouraging of trying things without necessarily ending up with a final product.

What does your work investigate? What are the things which catch your attention?

The things that catch my attention are usually quiet things, textures, discarded things, mistakes, little things that make me laugh. I think there’s always a bit of an antagonism, even if it has a more minor tone. I think often what i’m investigating these days comes from quite a personal space. It comes from a place of urgency, political urgency and trying to work through questions that trouble me but i don’t quite know how to address. I always want to find moments of joy that are also tiny moments of disruption in the everyday. I think it has to do with a stubbornness, but also it has something to do with a desire for poetics as a negotiation of possibility… even though I have no knowledge of poetry. I’m really interested in being out of sync and out of time and giving time to chances that might help us find community in unobvious ways. These days, i am often thinking about the phrase slow militancy.

What is most important to you as an artist?  Is it the hope for a certain reaction in the observer?  Or is it to accurately create a certain environment?

I don’t think about the observer very much to be honest, because it’s impossible for me to imagine what someone else could think. I like to hide things and make a space. I try to meditate on certain energies, to not lose things. Whatever amount of time a viewer wants to give to a work is enough to me.  I’m not interested in being demanding with the viewer’s attention, but i am grateful if someone does spend some time… in any way that resonates with them. I usually have a very specific set of ideas, colours or pace i’m thinking of, but it’s more like a cloud of related concepts and references that you can enter and leave as you please. although intention of a piece is important for me in terms of how i’m trying to understand things, i don’t expect the same of the observer. I guess what i am hoping for is that something in my work might remind the viewer of something that is relevant or interesting to them in their contexts, not necessarily accuracy.

To what extent does the pandemic influence your depiction of art? Does it generate new inspiration?  


I think i’m still trying to understand how the pandemic has influenced art for me. It has had an impact on me personally, but it’s still difficult for me to say how it changed my engagement with art. This could be because I have not been very active in terms of exhibiting anyway, or perhaps because a lot of my interests have led me to trying projects on the street and in corners and alleyways in public spaces or in my home, so it has not been that different. I do think that now i regard art with more of a sense of urgency.


How do you feel about being involved in an online residency program? How important is to stay connected with the international art community?

It’s super cool!  i loved it, i wish it could be ongoing! I loved meeting the artists I was doing the residency with and was grateful and inspired to be learning about everyone’s processes. It’s a real honour to be a let in to seeing how someone creates their work! It was great to be able to participate even though i didn’t end up spending as much time as i hoped.

What are your thoughts about the theme ‘artist on standby’? Tell us a bit more about your project…

The theme “artist on standby” brought up ideas about productivity and labour. i was thinking about artist on strike and what that could entail. i was interested in nothingness and being on strike as a kind of engagement with nothingness. At the same time, i was obsessed with gardening and this desire many share to make a garden produce. What does it mean to go on strike as an unproductive gardener who loves to garden? A garden usually has to be purposeful in some way. They are interesting to me because they are full of contradictions and tensions, relationships and systems of power. They are places of rest and work, they are abstract and material. They are also utopian, real and futural. They are full of possibilities and also full of complicated and sometimes violent histories.  Looking at Chinese gardens, i wanted to see how i can draw on some of those principles, (such as “borrowed views”) contort them and place them along ideas of unproductivity, nothingness, utopia, militancy, and racialized labour. I wrote 12 aphorisms, which i see as performances. I wanted to work in that tension between unproductivity and performance. Each is an act, loosely inspired by 12 rounds of boxing training as a kind of reflection because performance can also be a kind of training and a form of fighting. The aphorisms were printed and installed on 12 wooden fence posts in an alleyway, each with tops that have eroded and grown in with moss: each forming their own unproductive, unintended gardens. I see each as a performance; not especially active, but that does have a momentary role in activating a garden.


What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?

Normal for me is not that different, haha, one day at a time. I would be fulfilled to have time and opportunities to hang out with people i love and create things together. I also want more opportunities to learn and try new things. I want to know about peoples’ approaches to life and to art. I like feeling inspired by people. That’s about it.


Any future plans/projects?

I’m interested in piracy and petty theft! I’m dreaming about pirate ancestors.