As the Lunar New Year celebrations continue, we spoke with Paris-based photographer and frequent S/ contributor Michelle Du Xuan about what traditions she holds near and dear to her heart, the culinary delight that has become a celebratory staple, and how Chinese culture drives her creativity.
As a Paris-based Chinese-born artist, how do you typically celebrate Lunar New Year?
“I usually get together with friends and family on the Chinese New Year, where we would usually have a large party with lots of delicious food. Occasionally I visit Chinatown to see the New Year parade and dance of lions and dragons—the decorations on the street during this time of the year are very pretty.”
What are some traditions you’ll be continuing this year?
“Dumplings! This is the one tradition that I keep every year no matter what. It’s more like a childhood memory that a New Year’s feast always ends with a plate of delicious dumplings, it gives me comfort and a touch of the celebratory mood. Also, adding some red colour in the house is a tradition that I keep.”
Why is it important for you to maintain these traditions?
“Because it matters to me, it really gives me an occasion to look back at where I’m from and be grateful and proud of the culture. Also, it’s like continuing a good memory with all the people I love and cherish.
How does your Chinese heritage influence your creativity and artistic approach?
“I think it’s in my subconsciousness how my culture influences me and my creativity. I don’t have the intention to emphasize my Chinese heritage nor ignore it. I think every past experience comes naturally into the creative process.”
Who are some of your favourite Chinese artists and designers?
“I love Cai Guo-Qiang and Huang Yong Ping, their work sends out a universal message that challenges time, emotion, and space. There is a certain beauty and subtle Asian aesthetic in their work that is very poetic that I really admire. China’s rising fashion power is definitely something I’m proud of. There are a lot of talented young Chinese fashion designers with strong voice and unique styles such as Uma Wang, Yiqing Yin, Yang Li, Dawei, Chen Peng, Sean Suen, Xander Zhou and others.”