Rice Mingshan Fan was born in Shenzhen, China (born 1991). She moved to the U.S. at the age of 17, and went on to graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Fine Art Photographic Ilustration. She now lives in Osaka, Japan, where she is currently seeking an MFA at Osaka University of Arts.
Her work focuses on discovering the idea of “self” and the deceptive nature of social media, and how we curate and share our digital selves with one another. She works primarily in still photography and video installation.
It’s just like most of my days at school back home in China. This project started as me trying to confront my past. In my memories, life always seemed mundane. I lost track through all of those routines. Even though I tried to create some special moments so I could actually remembers it. But still, there are so many of us. My kind of special became lost in the air. At one point, I just stopped looking. I stopped looking for these moments. I lost some pieces of myself without noticing it. It took me some time to poke around and build up the courage to try to find that part of me. The one thing I have learned is that everyone is an individual. We are all very different from each other in a very beautiful way. I decided to embrace those lost pieces of me. I will try to retrieve them and complete myself in the process.
“The first thing of every Monday morning would be the morning gathering. We would listen to a group lecture from different teacher and watch the red Chinese flag rise while we are singing the national anthem. We would be wearing the same uniform (white polo shirt with a sea blue collar) as all the other girls throughout the entire school and even the whole city. Meal plans are all the same. There were always a cold box of milk and cheap packaged breads/cakes. We would have to memorize a poem or some paragraphs that I didn't fully comprehend from the articles in the textbooks. We would have the monthly test from all the subjects. I would go home around the similar time. My dad always makes rice for dinner.”
These are my clues.
Below, Rice answered a few questions about her series and photography practice!
Why did you choose photography over other artistic mediums?
I think photography is the closest to reality among them all. Photography is delusional because it makes you think what you see it’s probably the reality. The beauty about photography its it creates this invisible space for everyone to think relatively from the work you see. You could be think about anything, or nothing at all. By using photography as a medium, I can embody my consciousness into something visible. You could say this is my way to communicate with the world. My photos serve as a carrier, it carries my feelings, my thoughts, my emotions and my struggles. All these imperfect factors about me, made me who I am now.
How did this series start for you creatively?
This work developed from a desire to make conscious through photography, my innermost subconscious thoughts and feelings. In order to gain a greater more complex understanding of the narrative of ‘self’, I project fragments of my thoughts and feelings into small objects (that only exist in my head) within the photographic frame.
What reflections have you come to after finishing this series? If you are still working on the series, what revelations have come up while creating the series?
I used to be ashamed of being different. I grow up in a culture that it is the best if you do what most people do. Differences were not always acceptable back then. Making this work is like using photography as a way to accept the fact that we are all different. Even though I am no perfect human. I am real because all my imperfections.
Yes, I am still making self-portraits. Lately, I have been working with the deceptive nature of social media, and how we curate and share our digital selves with one another. It made me realize that we are all living at least two different lives that we are forced to live (or to perform) to others. Internet is taking over our real life now. We humans are changed with the change of time. No matter we like it or not. For me, the change itself really intrigued me.
Who is your favorite photographer and why?
Rinko Kawaguchi. In her eyes, the little moments seem to be alive on the paper. Her photos give me a sense of living. I had the honor to meet her in person and she is just like her work, quiet but witty. And no matter what camera/format she uses to make her work, you could also tell they are made by her.
Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you would recommend people to check out?
I recommend The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands. It gave me a lot of hit while I am making my work. For magazine, I recommend Genda Magazine. It’s a combination of Western and Eastern style of photography. It is a very interesting publication.
Lastly, what artists are currently inspiring you?
Francesca Woodman, Cindy Sherman, Yingji Yang, Fumikaza Ishino, Zhang Kechun and Feng Li.