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INTERVIEW with CHRISTINE WU “COME HOME”

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Christine Wu’s “Come Home” opens at La Luz de Jesus Gallery on Friday, November 1 from 8 – 11 PM, with Paul Koudounaris’ “Heavenly Bodies”, and remains on display until December 1st.  Wu speaks about her inspirations and gives us a glimpse into her universe.

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Is “Come Home” a continuation of your previous works?

The themes in the show are concepts that I have carried through all my work thus far. I am constantly playing with the ideas of metaphorical deaths and figurative ghosts. As the poet Alastair Reid said, “dying is what the living do,” and I find this to be especially true when it comes to letting go and growing up. In order to evolve, we have to choose to let things from the past die to fully learn from the experience. Everyone has their personal baggage, and the older we get, the more mental clutter we accumulate, as memories we’ve stored away in our attics may rise and haunt us, triggered by things that we may not be at all aware of. “Come home,” was often a phrase my mother would say to me, but she meant it in the physical sense, as a want for me to be next to her. But I have a tendency to be very sensitive and think about things in unconventional ways, so whenever my mother would say the words to me, I would hear the thumps of the ghosts in my attic.

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And, you’ve also found inspiration for “Come Home” in a book by Herman Hesse?

I was collecting my thoughts to put together this new body of work, a good friend of mine told me to read Narcissus and Goldmund, by Herman Hesse. The motifs in the novel continually resounded with the form that I wanted this show to take. The tale follows the trials and tribulations Goldmund as he struggles with trying to find his place in the world. Throughout the story, there are constant images of flowers growing, wilting, and dying, mirroring the protagonist’s state of mind. Hesse explores the Jungian archetype of a “feminine mind” through Goldmund, the idea that art, nature and creative expression are inherently female, while logic and the sciences are attributed to the “masculine mind.” In the very end of the story, Goldmund laments “Without a mother, one cannot love. Without a mother, one cannot die.” These last words struck a particular chord in me, as I have been incubating the idea of feminine power and the way that it connects to our existence. There is a sense of “meeting your maker” in images that I have created, with multi-layers, echoing phantoms of the past. Some of the paintings find my subjects among flower beds, reminiscent of a funeral. Even though my work deals with death, I always strive to have a feeling of breath in my subjects.

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You are an artist, first and foremost, and spend most of your time in your home studio. Do you practice any sort of self-imposed discipline? You also have a distinctive look; one might perceive you as a musician or think that you spend a lot of time in clubs…

I work from my studio which is also my apartment, and so sometimes I don’t step out of my places for days. I still feel the need to get dressed and make my bed every day though, because I believe that having a routine is paramount with my line of work, where so many things are free form. When I do step out, people have a tendency to comment on the way I look, although it is not something I try to make to look a certain way. I am so used to being by myself and seeing myself without the context of other people looking on that I often forget that I’m “different.” But as far punk and pop culture are concerned, I’m a bit of a black hole since I don’t have a television or direct access to the internet. I know what I like and I do what I want, and if people are surprised, then I am surprised at their surprise.

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