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Interview: We Talk To Michelle Fung

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

We talked to Michelle Kuen Suet Fung about her futuristic world in the year 2084 and her work process.

Photograph: Courtesy of Michelle Kuen Suet Fung.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art?

I am an interdisciplinary artist based in Hong Kong. All my works (2015 – 2084) revolve around building a futuristic world in year 2084. There are five imaginary countries in this world: Contradictoria, Northlandia, Dreamland, the Aristocratic Union and the Republic of Strata. The media to date include drawings, paintings, text, books, installations, performances, woodcuts and animation. I will spend my lifetime expanding the narratives of each country. The works will weave together a geopolitical map of our future world in the Anthropocene.

"The Fantastic Map Of 2084" by Michelle Kuen Suet Fung. View in shop.

Your work is based on a dystopian world set in 2084. How did you come up with that?

It came from a dream! In 2014, I took my ex-boyfriend (current husband) to Tai O. I fell asleep in the summer heat and got up after 20 minutes and wrote the entire synopsis of “Plastic, plastic, everywhere!” in one sitting. That was the birth of the world of 2084. Of course, to take a dream into a lifetime of work takes a few extra steps. One of the most valuable lessons during my graduate study was the concept of practice-led research. In essence, it means making artworks (an artist’s practice) is the artist’s means of research. That means, the starting point of an artist’s work is a question. At that point, she doesn’t have the answer. Through making the works, she aims to arrive at an answer (research.) Of course, the destination usually turns out to be different from the initial plan. Research is only information if not marinated in artistic interpretation and imagination.

"All Roads Lead To Polluta" by Michelle Kuen Suet Fung. View in shop.

What / where do you get your artistic inspiration from?

I believe in work ethics and persistence. I happen to rely heavily on research and then translate that research into visual forms.

Tell us a little about how you create your art?

As I mentioned, I rely heavily on research for my works. Once I come up with a unique idea, I begin to glean through a vast amount of relevant materials: films, novels, scholarly books, contemporary and historical art, documentaries, Wikipedia and googling…The first step often involves cleaning out all relevant materials in the local university library system. Then I try to make creative connections with my research notes and my ultimate art form. Sometimes the next step involves actually learning and mastering the art form, like woodcuts and animation. Right now I am in love with working with a team. When a dedicated team contributes their talent towards a communal goal, the synergy is most definitely electrifying.

Animation still for "Polluta": Courtesy of Michelle Kuen Suet Fung.

What do you have planned next?

Right now I am wrapping up two dozen woodcuts (to be launched next month!), working on my second animation Polluta Film @PollutaFilm with my brilliant team. I also plan to create more map paintings and Hong Kong 2084 paintings this year, and am working on a few commissions and a community school project on the side. And I have around ten wonderful private students. Fingers crossed I can still conduct my arctic research trip and launch my film and museum exhibition at the Quarantine Film Festival (no joke) @the_quarantine in Bulgaria this year.

Photograph: Courtesy of Michelle Kuen Suet Fung.

Do you have advice for young artists?

For art students, I can’t recommend the following enough:

Read. Read good books, good magazines, good online articles. Your depth and breadth of knowledge will enrich your practice.

Find an internship. I watch my interns mature into a more confident, beautiful version of themselves over a matter of months.

Be a sponge. Practice and perfect your technical foundation. Even though many famous contemporary artists do not rely on technical virtuosity, it will be too late on the day you wish you could do chiaroscuro or Chinese calligraphy.

If you are a young working artist, I recommend the following:

Don't give up. If art is truly what you want, don’t give up when the going is tough. However, make sure you have the financial means to live on.

Build relationships. You make art, but it’s people who will make your career.

Give 200% to every project. Do more than what is expected of you.

Read more about Michelle Kuen Suet Fung and view her work over on her profile page.



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