Spiegel Me by Ran Xia
Why does a certain piece of artwork move you to tears but not the other? Why do you feel an inexplicable sense of connection with an image? I believe that art is a portal between personal realms of artists and spectators rather than merely physical embodiment of abstract ideas and imagination. When I look at images created by artists, whether they’re my friends or they lived worlds away, I see them as windows and mirrors. They are windows, through which we view the artists’ mindscapes, see glimpse of their life stories as well as our own memories. They are mirrors, from which we give ourselves a chance to introspect, to examine and explore the subconscious. There’s nothing superior of inferior about what we see, what we feel, or realize from those windows and mirrors, for such phenomena of appreciation are extremely personal. Those experiences ultimately enable us to better see ourselves as who we truly are.
“Spiegel Me” is an experiment of using art to tell stories, to bring people together, and to serve as a medium of introspection. We constantly see ourselves in the mirror and scrutinize our reflections with overly critical eyes. We look at ourselves with expectations and disappointments; we see in our eyes desires and regrets; we search closely for imperfections, stressing ourselves over “what-ifs”. We wish we were prettier, handsomer, slimmer, plumper, younger, older, fairer, darker; we imagine we were someone else: a musical legend, a heartthrob on the silver screen, a scientist who transformed humanity, a leader who empowered generations of people… we see our reflections, distorted with unrealistic hopes and fancies, as they overlap with the faces of our idols and dreams.
I found it the hardest thing to do, looking at myself with naked, honest eyes, but I’d like to take the challenge, and ask you to join me in this journey of personal growth, redefining the images as we see ourselves, and more importantly, accepting ourselves. “Spiegel Me” is my personal confession of a lack of confidence and ability to see my true self, as well as my wish to share with you this idea. Presented in this series are some of iconic faces that are universally admired, including some of my personal heroes. You’re encouraged to take photographs of your own faces overlapping those adhered on the mirror. Please share them on Instagram or any social media of your choice and tag #SpiegelMe so I know I could count on you to accomplish this experiment.
Ran is an art eclectic based in New York. She grew up in Shanghai and for the last 5 years, life in the States has been all about being in transit, closet sized apartments and packed schedule. In order to adapt to the circumstances, she had to use non-traditional methods and materials to keep making art. Her favourite tools include gel pens, common sharpies, quills that New York pigeons had so kindly given, and those metallic markers she’s been in love with since elementary school. She objects to the idea that art is only for the privileged and the concept of artist being sacred. Her backgrounds in psychology, theatre and media (as well as a general interests in pretty much everything), made her to look at art as a medium of communication. Over the past years, she had created close to 200 illustrations of stories, scenes and characters from movies, plays, fairytales and songs. Ran studied extensively on the relationship between sequential and simultaneous cognitions that enable human brains to conceive images and stories. Her goal is to create art that tells stories that can be shared and understood regardless of the boundaries of time and space. She firmly believes that although motionless, the images on paper contain elements that reach far beyond every dimension.