Huidi Xiang

Huidi Xiang (b. 1995 Chengdu, China) is a sculptor based in New York, NY. Huidi received her MFA in Art from Carnegie Mellon University in 2021 and her BA in Architecture and Studio Art from Rice University in 2018. Huidi’s works have been exhibited internationally, including at OCAT Biennale at OCT Art & Design Gallery in Shenzhen, China; KAJE in Brooklyn, NY, USA; Lydian Stater in Long Island City, NY, USA; LATITUDE Gallery in New York, NY, USA; Contemporary Calgary in Calgary, Canada; Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China, and more. Huidi has also participated in some artist residencies, including NARS Foundation International Residency Program (2022), ACRE Residency Program (2021), and the Millay Colony for the Arts (2020).
January 23, 2023
Tell us about your practice.
In my art practice, I make sculptural objects, installations, and systems to examine world-making processes in late capitalism. My work usually reenacts and simulates popular media symbols or scenarios to investigate the invisible working mechanism, rules, and hidden power structure. With my work, I cultivate alternative narratives to break down or convolute the making possesses of ideologies. My latest work looks at in-game gadgets and tropes in video games to explore the spatial and temporal effects of inhabiting both the digital and physical world and the renewed labor structures in our post-industrial post-internet world. 
Can you tell us about what attracted you to investigate pop culture’s symbols and scenarios?
When I was a kid, my mom always played twentieth-century classic cartoon animations like Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, and Pink Panther for me at home. So I was surrounded by these cartoon characters since I was very young. These cartoons became my entry point for learning about western pop culture and formed my primary lens to view the western world. I look into these pop cultural symbols and scenarios in my practice now because, on the one hand, I believe they can help me to better understand our real life because all these symbols are outcomes of our contemporary society, but they also translate, stretch, and reconstruct real-life ideologies in very particular manners. They celebrate or criticize certain aspects of our society for very specific reasons. On the other hand, I want to figure out how they are used as rhetorical devices, from which I can learn how to construct alternative narratives in my own practice.
How did your degree in architecture influence your current practice?
My studies in architecture reinforced my curiosity about the designed objects and made me pay attention to the designed and constructed space around me, which has become an important subject matter of my current practice. Architecture discourse also teaches me many useful tools, both conceptually and technically, to explore not only “what’s on the wall” but also “what’s behind the wall.” I integrate these tools into my studio practice.
Part of your practice questions the construction and deconstruction of standards (both in real life and the make-believe realm). Can you tell us how does that manifest within your practice?
Growing up in China and currently living in the US, I constantly feel a force of friction when dealing with different standards, from the systems of measurement (metric system vs. imperial system) to paper sizes (ISO paper size system vs. The North American paper sizes). My studies in architecture also make me pay extra attention to the standards imposed on me and the standards I impose on the world surrounding me. With all the questions about the standards, especially their making process, I thus create works using absurd artistic language to reimagine, speculate and complicate how standards are constructed to deconstruct the hidden power structure.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Recently I have been looking back at the gadgets from the Japanese manga series Doraemon, which I have also been reading since I was a kid. Unlike the cartoon “killing” gadgets like those developed by ACME Corporation for Wile E. Coyote, Doraemon’s devices and tools are meant to help people in need. However, these wacky gadgets with particular functions and elaborate designs also sometimes turn out to be duds. I am also very much interested in the “container” or the portal of these gadgets – Doraeon’s Fourth-Dimensional Pocket.
What’s next for you?
I am currently in a group show, “Just About in the Round,” at KAJE, Brooklyn, NY. The exhibition is up until February 12, 2023. In March, I will have my solo exhibition at Tutu Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. I am working on several new sculptures inspired by in-game “Power-ups” (unique items that give special abilities to characters in video games) and the practice of “glitching” for the show now.

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