Episode 28: The Thing Is Larger Than You (w/ Accra Shepp)

Photo credit: Ben Timpson

Hey everyone. It feels like it’s been a while, but I finally made it into China. It was a very long and stressful flight until I was able to settle down my bags. To give you a rundown of what happened that day, basically I didn’t have an entry visa until the last minute. The paperwork for my visa took longer than expected and I missed the first part of staff orientation. The visa center in Berlin said they would give me my passport on last Tuesday at 2pm, although I wouldn’t know if my visa would be approved until I got my passport back that day. I was all packed because I wanted to catch a 6pm flight out that same day. So I arrived early at the visa center and I got my visa approved at 2pm. Immediately after, I quickly went home, bought my ticket, and headed to the airport for a 17 hour flight, with a connection at Qatar. After traveling another two hours to reach Zhuhai, I finally got to my hotel. I spent the next few days looking for apartments and settling down. The second night was somewhat stressful as getting money was difficult. Most places didn’t take my American credit card and many ATMs didn’t take my bank card. Everyone here pays digitally with their phone, but you can’t set that up without a Chinese bank account, which you can’t set up without first getting a residency permit. A few kind staff members helped me out and now I am feeling ok. My initial thoughts on Zhuhai is it is very hot and tropical, weather conditions that I am not a fan of. Otherwise, food here is very good and cheap, although I am biased towards Cantonese food. I’ll keep you updated on anything new once classes start.

For today, I am interviewing Accra Shepp. Accra got his BA in Art History and Studio Art from Princeton University, followed by a Master’s Degree in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. He also completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia, so we have that in common. Working primarily in photography, Accra has exhibited in spaces such as MoMA, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Whitney Museum. I met Accra during my time at Anderson Ranch in the winter of 2018. Accra was invited to help jury the following year’s round of residents for a few days, so I got to get to know Accra over dinner and late night drinks. Accra and I talk about the Wall Street protests, making websites, social justice in the arts, and the power of photography. Accra was actually the second person I ever interviewed. As I edited the audio, I found my younger self sounding awkward and tentative, although I’m not sure exactly how much has changed since then -_- I do feel like a different person from the voice that is only a year and a half old, which I guess it means I am continually growing, hopefully in a good direction. In any case, here’s our conversation and you can be the judge of that. Enjoy!

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