...the night view of Beijing really tugs my heart strings...
A Conversation with
Poetry & Art Contributor
by Simon Shieh
BYLR: First things first, what is your favorite WeChat sticker?
Sophia Wang: My favorite WeChat sticker has got to be a "happy" face because of the multiple meanings behind it. This is not really a true smile but a smile with mixed emotions such as speechlessness, anger, hate, and so on. The sticker is always called in Chinese the “smile of mystery” and there are still many people who misuse it.
BYLR: What are some of your favorite places to go and things to do in Beijing?
SW: Beijing is such a modern city that includes countless amazing but hidden places. Despite its pollution and crowdedness at some times, I love to get lost in this city. Getting lost means I can explore new and strange areas or even encounter some amusing people. For me, the night view of Beijing truly tugs my heart strings (seeing the neon lights twinkling in front of your eyes, and the light seems to whisper a quiet song) so I love to just walk on the street in the night even until midnight. The Chinese phrase for this is called “压马路 Ya Ma Lu.” My favourite places to go in Beijing would be galleries, vintage stores, coffee shops, Hu tong and a shopping mall called Parkview Green.
BYLR: Why do you write and create artwork? When and how did you start?
SW: To answer this question, I would like to quote one of my many favorite artists, Yayoi Kusama. She said in her interview that she did art because “I fight pain, anxiety and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art." Well, I like all kinds of art either visual or performance art. I do art simply because I just like to do and it brings me joy, and sometimes it alleviates the vacuity of being pressured in my daily life. However, I could not tell you exactly when I made my first art piece. Perhaps, when I was born, I sung my first solo aria with my crying voice or doodled the plate with ketchup from my dinner with my one-year-old-hands.
BYLR: What inspired you to write “Nostalgia”?
SW: The inspiration for me to write Nostalgia actually comes from when I accidentally picked up my younger sister’s children’s book and had flashbacks about my old time feelings and thoughts. At that time, I just couldn't help but notice how amusing it was to grow old and how I missed being an innocent and clueless young girl. When I was little, Anderson's fairytales were particular popular and there were not only books but also cartoons. The cartoon was actually adapted from the book very well. Then, I reviewed some plots of Anderson's fairytales and wanted to write a poem about the incident.
BYLR: In your poem, "Nostalgia," you refer to what I assume are three fairytales, "the Ugly Duckling," "the Snow Queen" and "the Little Match Girl". What do each of these fairytales mean to you?
SW: These three fairytales are the ones that resonated with me the most, and the ones that I could remember the most since childhood. I guess part of the reason is that many of these fairytales continue to be told today via cartoon or movie. Also, the feminine character inside the story somehow represents fragments of me: the girl from snow queen, the ugly ducking, and the match girl herself.