In her series Hanging By a String, illustrator Vicki Ling explores the fragility and precarity of modern life. Through her towers of perishables, Ling very literally presents instability and catastrophes moments from happening. With a tug or slip of the red string that she wraps around everyday items, her compositions would topple. “We can observe society today has achieved a high degree of economic and technological development, yet we are contemporaneously struggling to keep up with the increasingly fast pace and materialistic nature of life,” Ling says of the project.
The Chicago-based illustrator tells Colossal that the string serves as a visual depiction of the tension that pervades contemporary life and disrupts any chance for complete harmony. Each element of beauty—the blooming florals, elegant edibles, and delicate teaware—is superficially pleasing and a distraction from the impending destruction.
Contemporary lifestyles tend to obscure various crises that spontaneously erupt, from privacy invasions to public health issues and from climate change to personal emotional disorders, etc. Often our preoccupations are so overwhelming that they lead us to conceal our anxiety in oblivion. I’m interested in surfacing that sense of tension and insecurity and raise these issues to our collect(ive) consciousness.
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