The exploration of self-identity has always been one of the most important themes Annie is focusing to work on. International students like her, have been struggling with their sense of identity and belonging in this overseas community. The rapid development of urbanization inevitably brings about some changes in mindset. How to find and maintain oneself in the constantly changing environment without being defined by stereotypes is what Annie is trying to convey in her works.
With photography being her field of expertise, Annie Chen Ziyao is now both a curator and artist. Coming to the US at an early age, Annie knows exactly how it feels to be “special” in an environment that one is not familiar with at all. Therefore, she created Magenta Space to indicate the sense of isolation.
“As an international student, it takes quite a while for us to fit into the local community. And we can only interact with our family and friends through the Internet especially under this global pandemic,” Annie explained, “I used the color magenta to create a space but left myself white out to reflect a sense of isolation.”
According to Annie, magenta is not a real color that could be found on the light spectrum. It is something that the brain creates to fill in space in a way that makes sense. Annie believes it would be a good fit in her work to create an artificial space that blurs the boundaries of reality and dream-like environment.
Another thing Annie realized was that the rapid development of urbanization did not necessarily bring the ideological changes that were expected. People need to fight against the stereotypes and position themselves at the right spot. And that’s the story that Annie was trying to tell in City Vacation.
“The girl in this work is dressed in a swimsuit, with a straw hat and swimming ring, standing in various different scenes of this city. This urban scene creates a sharp contradiction between someone on vacation and the busy life in a city.” Annie said, “I’m trying to explore how we can not be defined by the stereotypes under the urbanization and the international dialogue.”
Annie sees art as a creative and powerful tool to inspire people to think. Many of her works are a reflection of her thoughts on social issues, in which she created a fictional paradise or playground in her own approach. And in this alternative world, Annie is able to set up new rules to replace some of the old-fashioned or unreasonable regulations in the real world.