Lao Xie Xie does not care about being a photographer. Camera is a tool to realize ideas. “You don’t need big skills to take pictures in 2022. That’s why now the aesthetic in photography is becoming different and people prefer the concept behind it.” He is the voice of  Chinese Gen-Z living in Shanghai. Those kids refuse the discipline of Chinese society but can’t escape as one can in other countries. Their way of rebellion is via online, using a VPN, building a community through Western social media like Instagram, where no other Chinese person can judge or report them to the police. The combination of nudity and sharp vibrancy against the conservative social values of China made his images more appealing.  Creativity is like conquering!

“If I really have to define myself I would say I am an image-maker.” you have said. Could you tell us more about your creative practice?

My creative process comes from my daily life, If I walk on the street and saw some particular place or object that can catch my attention I start to think about how it can be matched in my mind and take notes on my phone before I forget about it. The problem is after 3 years without travelling my creativity is getting stuck and I feel the need to change air for a bit…

What makes photography different from other forms of art?

I think the most different thing is that if you give a good camera to a person who never shot before he can take some nice photos, but if you give a brush to someone who never paint before he will definitely do some ugly shit. You don’t need big skills to take pictures in 2022 that’s why now the aesthetic in photography is becoming different and people prefer the concept behind easily recognizable objects, like toilet paper for example…

In your imagery, you use lots of “irony” . How does that word reflect on you in your personal life?

Yes definitely I’m a person who is not too serious about problems etc, and I think creativity is like conquering a woman or you make her smile or you make her cry…

I think creativity is like conquering a woman or you make her smile or you make her cry…

Lao Xie Xie is your pseudonym. Could you please tell us the story behind it? 

Lao comes from the first place I lived in Shanghai, laoximen ( is an area in Shanghai) and Xie pie is the first word I learn in Chinese (thanks). I always like the beginning of a story…

Tell us about the importance of “freedom of self-expression” and the sense of it in your works.

I think, the important thing is to be your real to yourself. Working under a pseudonym helped me a lot to express my weird side without compromising my other side. Especially when you live in a society that is ready to judge you and does not give you other works if they know what’s your art about. I really appreciate  people who does not give a shit about other judgments and can have their incomes from what they like, I hope to be one of them in the near future….

Define the perspective of Chinese gen-z living in Shanghai.

Before covid, I thought they can be fresh air for the country but because of the travel ban they have slowly started to become brainwashed by the government. I told you this because when the secretary Pelosi landed in Taiwan I saw a lot of people in my social media incite war with phrases made by the party to urge populism, by people who go around with coloured hair, pierced tattoos etc. But now they never mention those pious rebels that are succubus to Chinese propaganda …

Laoxiexie was born on Instagram and it is changing differently on TikTok. I feel a bit uncertain about how to spread my voice again but I’m confident in my work.

Do you see any positive progression about the rights? Or is it just going worse?

Right now my vision is pretty negative about the future of this country. The only hope is a change of the political leaders to open China to the rest of the world again or they gonna miss everything…

What inspires you the most?

The situation… If a model and the time give me good vibes my final artwork will be better. Some models are very nice on camera but in real life they are not friendly and that makes my work also less powerfull. I think it is same as making love with someone… It can be very beautiful but if you don’t have the right sparkle the sex is not that good.

What does social freedom look like to you?

Ancient Greek society was pretty close to my idea of freedom except for some shit, but more or less you are a valuable member of the society based on your artistic and intellectual skills and not the slave of what you own. You can have sex without judgment and labels but in 2022 we still have the need to define people based on labels.

Where do you see yourself in the future as an artist?

I would like to continue with my art in a long term, in a short term I would love to publish my book but it does not look that easy… So there is any publisher that will read this interview and is interested please let me know.

The relationship between social media and your work; is it the best way to spread it out?

Laoxiexie was born on Instagram and it is changing differently on TikTok. I feel a bit uncertain about how to spread my voice again but I’m confident in my work.

Do you feel introverted or extroverted?

Introverted 100%. I am very different when I don’ know someone. Then I start to open and become more friendly …

Interview by Duygu Bengi