Maxi Meets Vivian Wenli Lin

No New Enemies Feature
Interview with Maxi Meissner

Growing up as an only child from a strong independent woman from the former GDR I never experienced the need to emancipate or to reflect much about my womanhood. Since I never felt marginalized as a Caucasian woman and since I never had to fight for equal payments, I just did not know what to reflect about. Meeting Vivian Wenli Lin, a video artist with a feminist focus, got me thinking and I hoped that meeting her would deconstruct my image of feminists as bra burning asexual women.

Vivian’s work, such as ‘Loving Work’ and ‘Asakusa Geisha’, is often described as very sexual, but what she really tries to show is the human side of sexuality and the layers of femininity that deconstruct sexuality. Experimenting with video from an early age, it came to her as a natural medium to express her view. A medium that makes it possible for Vivian to create her own cave; a personal space where she can feel comfortable and put her subjects patiently at ease. Contrary to male directors, who tend to be more intrusive in her opinion, Vivian knows how to make her subjects forget about the camera and let go.

Moving into a feminist focus, after attending Loni Ding’s Ethnic Studies social documentary class in America, gave Vivian a female voice that does not want to impose on the men’s world, but draws inspiration from other female artists. Taking on feminism as a religion she wants to create powerful images that inspire, instead of merely complaining. At Voices of Women media she is giving workshops to marginalized communities, such as sex workers and trafficked women, who find it hard to juggle their explosive work with their delicate family live. She believes that learning how to create your own image enables these women to deal with the split between their work and their personal lives.

While generally documenting Asian racial minorities she also worked with graffiti women and women in the hip hop scene. These thoughtful pieces show strong beautiful women and their relationship with their cities. While they reflect on their careers they are not being equalized to androgynous women, but let be in their femininity without being degraded. Vivian loves to show women fighting, how they balance career, motherhood, and sexuality, and if there is one thing she would like to achieve it is redefining women’s place in society. Without pushing away men as culprits she embraces femininity in al its facets.

While we ponder about the marginal and racial differences I remembered how I felt when I traveled through South-America and Asia. Being ‘the other’ made me feel very uncomfortable and I realized that while I could just go back home, a lot of women do not have the choice. Vivian made me understand that every being is political and that her focus on the feminine point of view is merely her way to represent herself and the communities she feels close to. She also made me realize how lucky I am to have the primarily untroubled live I life. In the future she would like to focus more on her workshops and give voice to teenagers and immigrant communities in Amsterdam, as well as to create more portraits.

By maxi meissner

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