Joyce Ho recently debuted her new exhibit ‘Mimesis’ at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art. “Mimesis is a philosophical term that means the act of imitation, the act of expression, and the presentation of the self,” she told us. “I think my works talk a lot about how we try to transform our physical conditions to imitate others in order to fit into certain situations or relationships.”
This is Joyce’s second time as a featured artist at MoCa, and visitors can see the change in style she’s undergone, which she describes as a gradual shift from “spray paints to a wide variety of material ranging from paintings, installations to video and theatrical works.”
‘Comings and Goings’, Joyce Ho, 2010.
The pleasure of viewing multiple art mediums is exactly what visitors to MoCa are in store for. Whether it’s a chilling video, oblique sculptures, or surrealist art, Joyce’s work is disquieting and disturbing. She says she is able to achieve this quality throughout all of her work, using certain angles and distorting of bodies to evoke a sense of foreboding in the viewer.
Despite these dark tendencies, there is a strange sense of invitation and allure to her art. Joyce achieves this paradox of a sinister yet inviting piece by creative use of vibrant and bright colors to veil the dark and surreal feelings of her paintings. She says “in order to complicate these unsettling images, I use strong yellow hues to create a warm overall lighting that emanates throughout the entire space.”
This idea, which she terms “peaceful violence”, is what truly makes her work fantastic. She says she is capable of “seducing the viewer with bright colors, while simultaneously confronting them with the damaged characters.”
‘Four Seasons’, Joyce Ho, 2010.
Joyce’s creative process is a lengthy one, she says usually spends “a few months developing a series of images and then over the course of an evening take a number of photographs and experiment with different compositions and lighting.”
Everything about her surroundings is a potential interest. Joyce hinted at the some of the inspiration behind the unsettling nature of her art when describing her urban home in Taipei, calling it “cold and inhuman”. Her apartment building is full of “cold, reflective marble floors, fluorescent lights, and long corridors.” She feels that the inside of new high rises which people call home often “seem more like conference rooms or hotels.”
A sense of impermanency seems to be one of the driving forces behind Joyce’s art. She moved from Taiwan to America at the age of 14 and she says that “this experience of being transplanted from my home, family, and culture had a huge impact on me and my work.” This impact is quite clear, as her artwork is lush with themes of familial disconnect and poignancy. Living in America was an experience that Joyce describes as “liberating” as she was given the chance to raise herself and her siblings in a new country, but ultimately she felt there was something unnerving “about this sudden sense of dislocation”.
‘Scene’, Joyce Ho, 2010.
After finishing her degree in America, Joyce opted to move back to Taiwan but says that she “suddenly found that I somehow did not fit into my own culture.” Along with her move stateside, this profound life experience has had an effect on her art.
‘We’re Together’, Joyce Ho, 2011.
The eerie tendencies and the vibrant display of Joyce Ho’s art is a truly unique experience. Mimesis is on display at Museum of Contemporary Art in People’s Square until June 12. She will also be hosting a talk on that day to discuss her work.