Ting–Ting Cheng: Identity and the Still Life

Posted by Alice Walters on 15th December 2011

Ting-Ting Cheng is a brilliant photographer from Taiwan who left her native country to embrace London's vibrant art scene a few years ago. Ting-Ting graduated with an MA in Photographic Studies from the University of Westminter in 2009 and has exhibited internationally since then, including cities like New York, Berlin, London or Taipei. Ting-Ting's quiet and humorous still life photographs captivated the Rise Art team from the outset and we are extremely pleased with the works that resulted from our collaboration with her. Here you can read a bit more about what makes her tick and what influences her art practice.

'Object 3' from 'Object Series' by Ting Ting Cheng

Which contemporary artist would you say has had the most influence on your practice to date?

It's difficult to name just one: Francis Alys, Sophie Calle, Susan Hiller, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Wolfgang Tillmans, Walid Raad, Fischli and Weiss... I love them and I am sure they have influenced my practice, even if it's not in a direct, obvious way.

Are there any other still life artists that you particularly admire?

The first artist that comes to mind is Laura Letinsky. She was a key reference when I was doing all my 'Still Life with Fruit' series. I love still life because it has a static, quiet, somehow formal quality. I have always thought that objects say more than human beings.

What does a normal day consist of for you? Do you have a studio that you work in?

I don't really have a studio. Usually I find a space where I live to make a pop-up, informal studio. It can be just a corner in the kitchen, as long as there is enough natural light and a white wall. Most of the time I see exhibitions, read books, take pictures for my projects, and apply for funding and I also teach Chinese and Photography as a private tutor!

What is your ambition as an artist? For example, is there a particular museum that you dream about having an exhibition in one day?

I think I am an ambitious artist, but not museum-wise, I don't quantify success on the basis of exhibiting in any particular museum or gallery. I want to be an artist that other artists, curators, critics or art lovers engage with and respect.

Ting at work in the studio

Before moving to London, you grew up in Taipei. Did the cultural differences between the UK and Taiwan influence your practice and if so, how?

To be honest, I don't think that my background influences my practice. I am not a big fan of playing with Orientalism. Sometimes I believe I was even trying to avoid the stereotype of Asian artist. However, I am Taiwanese, which is something I can't, and I don't intend to deny. I believe that it is embedded in my works probably in ways I don't even notice.

Your work published by Rise Art incorporates corporate identity into still life images. Could you tell us more about these works?

I am very interested in still life and objects. I always think objects are more interesting than people, carrying more stories and connotations. However, I am also very interested in identity and foreignness. I believe that comes from my background as an outsider in the city. This project, 'Still Life with Fruit', can be seen as the combination of these two interests.

'Still Life with The Pomelo' (2010)

What's your hobby outside of art?

I am useless at everything besides art. I can't think of any! I do watch a lot of TV series for relaxation, if that counts.

What's your favorite book, movie and guilty pleasure?

'Babel' is one of my favorite movies, and I just finished a book, 'Seven Lies' by James Lasdun, which was really good as well. And I don't even know what guilty pleasure means, but I see it written on Metro and the Evening Standard all the time!

You can see and buy Ting-Ting Cheng's limited edition prints produced on Rise Art here. For more information about Ting-Ting, please click here