We chat to Hong Kong-based French artist Ophelia Jacarini about her recent art projects, where she finds inspiration and her goals for 2022…
During the course of her career, Hong Kong-based French artist Ophelia Jacarini has explored the human form in large scale paintings, installations, photography, embroideries. Her artwork delves into the study of the female body, its sensuality, developmental processes and movement in dance. As well as exhibiting her work internationally, she was recently named the inaugural Eaton HK Award Winner for her debut exhibition entitled Manifest Ephemeral, previously held at the hotel’s independent art gallery Tomorrow Maybe. Most recently, Ophelia has launched an interactive digital artwork, titled Intraverse, which captures the motion of her dance in the Metaverse, using Virtual Reality technology combined with an original dance performance. Ahead, we speak to Ophelia to learn more about her recent art projects, where she finds inspiration and her goals for 2022.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you lived in Hong Kong?
I have been based in Hong Kong for seven years. My 17 years of ballet training, fine arts school and fashion schools acted as a combined intellectual exploration of time and space. It allowed me to see the human body in different concepts and transformative states, and inspired me to create artwork combining elements of dance, fine arts and fabric.
Can you tell us about your work? What projects are you currently working on?
All of my work is interlinked, time-lining a procession of artistic exploration and ever-evolving studies; each one determines the next. My 2021 exhibition titled “Manifest Ephemeral” was centred on the themes of movement and ephemerality. By mid 2021, I was able to harness the ability to bring visibility to an invisible form by using new technologies. Starting with Hysteresis, I have been exploring different ways to demonstrate human body motion through cutting-edge technologies. My latest project, Intraverse acts as a bridge between the metaverse and our physical universe. Performing my dance in a physical universe and capturing it in the metaverse results in an output which demonstrates fluidity between both verses.
What encouraged you to become a visual artist? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
It was not so much a choice as it was a natural calling. I have always been fascinated by dance and movement. My interest and curiosity in how body movement could leave a trace behind has driven me to focus my studies in an area which would allow me to achieve my objectives.
What does it take to produce your own exhibition?
I would say believing in yourself is the most important thing. I had to take on multiple roles, looking after the production, curation and so on. I pick up new skills each time. A curator’s job is like a movie director’s in that you need to oversee every detail of the production, so it helps to be extremely organised. If you can work well with others that helps too as it takes many skilled people to put on a successful exhibition.
Would you say it is challenging to make it as an artist in Hong Kong?
It is challenging to bring your work and people together anywhere. From my personal experience though, I would say Hong Kong is a great place for reaching new audiences. As part of my Manifest Ephemeral project, I was in the process of developing a technology that would allow me to capture dance movement in a fabric and turn a soft and fluid material into a strong and static form. Hong Kong has given me the opportunity to meet all the right people, from investors to technology experts and advisors.
What are five goals you have for this year?
- Find the right technology to achieve my project.
- Incorporate blockchain to my practice by offering my digital work on cryptocurrency platforms.
- Explore more collaborations with subject matter experts.
- Share more about my ongoing projects.
- Find more opportunities to reach wider audiences.
What are three things you do to maintain work-life balance in your day-to-day?
I practice yoga everyday, it is my important “me time” part of the day. But the truth is, I love what I do and it is hard for me to stop working. I guess I should add a sixth goal into my previous answer: establish work-life balance.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I do not go to a specific place for it. I find inspiration in the most random places. For example, it was at a fire station parking lot in Washington D.C that inspired me to start my Manifest Ephemeral project. I think the idea was already in my mind, but it appeared clearly to me there when it could have happened anywhere else.
Who are your favourite artists and what makes them stand out to you?
Louis Bourgeois for the way she created works embodying a singular language in feminist expression. I also really admire Egon Schiele because in his art, he makes sex look beautiful, and the body poetic. He was a feminist artist ahead of his time.
If you had one piece of advice to give to aspiring artists, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and work hard.
Images courtesy of Ophelia Jacarini.