THE ESCAPISTS: ALICE LONGYU GAO

· Beyond, Thoughts · , , , , ,

by Lara Arbid

Alice has a presence. Perhaps it’s the striking blonde hair, colorful eye shadow, or her rotational rainbow wardrobe, but Alice is just one of those girls. Her noteworthy social media presence gives only a taste of her inimitable style; there is much more to Alice than meets the eye.

Alice Longyu Gao 1

Alice was born in Bengu, China to a relatively conservative and traditional family. Growing up, she was very much in tune and sensitive to the world around her. Her excited attitude resulted in her send off by her family to Moatancheng, a school about 4 hours away from her hometown. Her time there was grim and emotionally draining. School started promptly at 5AM and ended at 11PM. On weekends, her and her peers were tested with big exams and ranked on their performance. Alice was overworked, creatively restricted, and felt trapped. After hard work and much convincing to her family, she applied to 16 universities in the US and was accepted to 10. “I told my dad, my destiny is going to be in America, so… I’m out.”

Alice studied Public Relations at Boston University. She was heavily influenced by Japanese fashion and Harajuku style. “No one cared about fashion, but I would dress up everyday.” She made it clear she did not dress up for anyone but herself.

As for her music, Alice says it is saving her life. She makes money with her DJing gigs, but where she really wants to create impact is with her talk show. “My entire life is a performance art piece to me.” She represents a generation of young artists breaking boundaries. Alice is a well-rounded individual who exhibits a high level of self-awareness, but more importantly she realizes the power of her voice. She is a content creator with the motivation to dissect the pressing issues of our time. “Ultimately, I want to have my own talk show in America. Wouldn’t that be so cool?”

She wants to push conversations on diversity, politics and society, fashion, and art. Alice wants to tackle it all and has absolutely no fear doing it. She remains positive, but has her worries about the future of the city she now calls home. Alice consistently credits her accumulation of cultures for building who she is. Her diverse background shaped her artistic intention of creating works that tap into various societal climates. She makes it clear however, that this is the only place in the world where she wants to do this. “New York is fucking hard, but this is the only place. It doesn’t matter if this city smells bad, what matters is everyone who wants to make changes is here.”

Alice is a fighter who wants to guide us to the realization that our diversity is our strength. One of her performance art pieces, Harajuku Housewife, ties in with her non-conformist attitude. This experimental photo series is about a housewife who wants to be free but is restricted by her inherit materialist instincts. Harajuku Housewife calls out what Alice bids as the struggle of being an “ungrounded Asian woman” through powerful imagery.

Alice is widely recognized by her efforts as she’s worked with the likes of Paper Magazine, Refinery29 and Milk.xyz. In one of her episodes from her series “Tea with Alice” for Paper, Alice sits down with model Daniela Braga as they discuss bullying in their past. The piece discusses the power of staying positive in seemingly dark times.

It’s a sensitive period across borders. Throughout time, art in all forms has consistently been present to channel frustration and inspire change. We asked Alice how she thinks her work represents fantasy, or how her way of living life illuminates an escape from reality. On a surface level, to which Alice herself acknowledges, it seems she has created a character far from reality. But this is in fact her true self. She says, “I want to make an impact, but I’m not dressing up like this to do that. This is just me, living.” Alice had convincing thoughts on reactions post-election. “Everyone was like, oh we’re living in a bubble. No, bitch! You are living in reality. You are educated and you think differently, that doesn’t mean you are living in a bubble.”

Alice is a storyteller with the motivation to tell the truth. Her appreciation of social impact and justice is a driving force in her performance art. Alice is unique but one of many artists of this generation fighting to be heard. In her own words, “Baby girl is just going to work hard and make it happen.”

Photo by Scott Shapiro

To read the full story, get your copy of Phosphenes 3 – “Fantasy”

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Written by Scott Shapiro · · Beyond, Thoughts · , , , , ,
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