Q&A: An Rong Xu


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Trust your gut, it’s usually right. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? That we would use pen and paper to write anything down. Are you aware of any conspiracies. None that I’m willing to admit to. What is it that interests you about photography? For me, photography holds onto the present, whenever that photograph is made, it will forever be present as a photograph. Photographs are they only things that never age from the moment it was made, in a sense, it is born and proceeds to die instantaneously, forever held in that moment. What is the worst thing about city life? I think with city life, we can get wrapped within our own little worlds and forget that there’s a whole other world out there. So I guess the worst thing is that we become really self-centered as city dwellers. What part of the planet would you like to explore? I’d love to explore the former USSR countries that all end in ‘stan, and also Mongolia. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? I think telepathy is the most plausible.  We’re already doing it. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? I’d align myself with Dr. Sun Yat Sen, would love to have photographed the Chinese Revolution. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Psychology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I don’t, I always have a camera on me. I guess I’ve had more moments where I’ve had my camera and didn’t want to take a picture because I was in the midst of an experience. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. A Father. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. A woman laying her head on the train, her seat reclined back, looking just off camera, her hands crossed ever so slightly. The tilt of her head, allows us to know she knows we’re there, but doesn’t care. Don’t we all just want to feel what Araki felt in that moment? That level of intimacy with another human being, that’s all we desire, yet very few ever achieve. How often do you take other people’s advice? Depends on who, but if I trust it, often.

Describe a personal hell. Having to wake up and not having a purpose in life. Which living person do you most admire? My parents, they’ve given their lives to make my life better. On what occasion do you lie? When I’m late, but I probably shouldn’t publicize that. What was the last crime you witnessed? A few seconds ago, someone littered. What is the best way to educate yourself? Your desire to want to be educated and pursue the knowledge that you want. What is the next book you want to read? Probably something by Murakami. Ultimate camera? Mamiya 7 II. Most used camera? Mamiya 7 II. What object do you want? Want, only leads to the dark side. What object do you need? Sustenance. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? A large database of pornography, and other miscellaneous information that exist in a non-tangible form, but through a box that emits light. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Not really, could always be stronger. Describe a cheap thrill. A ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. I’d be at the connection of the Transcontinental Railroad when they fired all the Chinese workers, and didn’t allow them to be in the picture.  I would have been there to take their picture. Are impulses more important than consequences? As Russell Simmons once told me, “Do You” Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be able to play the piano. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? I’m in China, hoping to see some crazy firecracker displays, wish me luck.

An Rong Xu is a photographer and filmmaker born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. For more of his work visit the following – Website / Tumblr / Instagram.