“[The past] is deep in my soul and brings me long-lost tranquility and bliss when I work.”
Born: Harbin, Heilongjiang, 1977
Qiu Xiaofei is only in his thirties, but for years his art has circled around experience, perception and memory. His installations recreate fragments of scenes he recalls from life or dreams. The hissing fibreglass gas tanks of Cakravada Mountain 2 (2007) were inspired by a news report the artist saw on TV. An old man had systematically stolen cooking-gas bottles from his neighbours. When he had more than a dozen in his room, he opened the valves and sat down ready to die. When emergency workers burst in, they asked him why he’d done it. “I wanted to find another world,” he said. The work’s title is a reference to the Cakravada (Iron Circle) mountain range, which in Hindu and Buddhist belief divides the world of the living from that of the dead. Viewing the tanks crowded inside the man’s tiny room, Qiu Xiaofei was reminded of “the invisible wall that exists in all of our minds”.