Born in 1990 in Shenyang, Xinmo Wu graduated in 2012 from the photography department of the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts and is currently based in Shanghai. Wu has always had a natural fascination with jellyfish, at first capturing their forms through photography, and later casting them as subjects in her illustration and installation work. From fascination to borderline obsession to observant detachment, Wu’s relationship to this subject matter has been a continual process of change.
Separating these aquatic animals from their backgrounds through color and form, the jellyfishes seem to be fossilized in the canvas, immortalized in images resembling a photo negative. Wu presents a message through her reinterpretation of jellyfishes, using the images as a metaphorical device to explore concepts of identity and gender. In the natural world, jellyfishes are able to reproduce asexually at certain stages of their life cycle, attaining a sort of immortality through their self-replication. But people often project gender attributes onto them, viewing their gentle, flowing forms as feminine, sensual, or even erotic. In our internet-driven world, concepts of femininity are constantly reassigned and redefined, fed to the population in the form of digital media. But when we set our preconceptions aside, perhaps we’re left with an opportunity to understand that being authentic is more important than conforming to society’s ideals of feminity.