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THE EXPERIMENTAL MIND BEHIND LONDON CREATIVE SODOMA XIA

London based creative Sodoma Xia, who studies at London College of Fashion and has been featured in Dazed, is collaborating with Underground England

Based within the creative London scene, Sodoma Xia uses her work to explore her self-identity. As a multi-disciplinary artist, Sodoma chooses to use both fashion photography, styling, fashion design, and digital arts to inform her style. She is heavily influenced by the club and dance scene, which has driven her artistic style. For our ‘New World Disorder’ shoot, we collaborated with Xia to create a shoot themed on the freedom of expression within an orderly and disorderly world. We caught up with Sodoma to talk about her inspirations, the themes of her work and what is next for her within the London creative scene.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what it is that drove you to want to be a creative?

I’m a non-binary and multidisciplinary artist based in London. I do various stuff, including photography, styling, fashion design, fashion modelling, and digital visuals. The reason I want to be creative is that I don’t like the real world and the systems established by others. Thus, I use multidisciplinary methods to create and present the world that exists in my mind. Also, I love fashion so much, and the visual sense is the priority in my life. I like creating an environment according to my aesthetics, an absurd world.

Experimental fashion photography shot by Sodoma Xia

Whilst growing up you had much skepticism towards being part of the LGBTQIA community, how has finding your identity influenced you and your career?

There are two aspects, both self and social struggles in my early life. From the self-identity aspect, I felt quite separately. When I was young, half of the time, I identified and acted like a boy, refusing all the girly stuff. However, the rest of the time, I loved to try on my mother’s dresses and high heel shoes in front of the mirror. However, gradually I chose to stay in – and treasure – this kind of in-between fluid status and did not force myself to belong to any binary system. It also influences my work, which is ambiguous, floating between reality and fantasy, between paradise and hell. From a social aspect, I was questioned about my sexual orientation by my high school teacher because of my conventional cultural background. At school, I always got excellent grades in examinations, but I never followed the discipline [of my peers] and hated their way of thinking so much. Finally, I dropped out of public senior high school during the second year.

As part of Arlo Parks’ ‘Art Therapy’ project for Dazed and Confused, you were one of few chosen to be showcased, what did this mean to you and how did you relate to the subject matter?

When I got this news, I was so excited. However, it is the past for me now. The process of creating artworks is about self-expression and self-acceptance. From the conscious, deep down to the unconscious realm, accepting the complete and often undesirable potentiality of what it truly is about myself that means I am not always who I think or hope I am. Most of my works are quite dark, but it is just how I work to integrate into my shadow, accepting the aspects suppressed by ego and then maintaining the continuity and individuality of myself.

You mention electronic dance music and club culture as a large influence on your life and art, what is it about this scene that you are drawn to?

They bring both sensual stimulus and inspiration to me. They also provide relief and freedom. I love seeing how people dress in the clubs I usually go to because they are unconventional and creative, they have strong personal styles. I enjoy letting the intensive beats and flashing lights stimulate my senses. When I am dancing, half of the time, I close my eyes and think about nothing, letting the intensive beats drag my body. During the rest of the time, I observe the relationship and interactions between human figures and saturated high-contrast club lighting, which influences my photography a lot. Clubs are places where I need not worry about serious human relationships, I am just enjoying myself and having fun. It’s relaxing because I do not like dealing with or maintaining bothering and complex relationships. I like total freedom. 

The ‘NewWorld Disorder’ shoot for Underground England, shot by Sodoma Xia

You have stated that there are many artists within London that you want to collaborate with – what is it that you find special about the London creative scene?

It’s inclusive and diverse. I can always find stunning, and creative works I have never seen before. There are so many opportunities, but London is also a quite competitive and stressful place. So many fields are almost saturated, with so many talented and experienced creatives in. But there are still upcoming and new fields worthy to think about.

Your work, rather than being in the style of documenting moments, is about the emotions felt behind these, why do you choose to capture this, and how does experimentation inform your work?

I treasure my feelings, emotions, and imagination because they are unique, and formed and shaped by my own experiences and personalities, which cannot be duplicated by anyone else. The real world is boring for me. It’s hard to say [why experimentation is important] because everyone is different. I choose to experiment in various fields mainly because I want to explore myself and find what I really like and in which field I may choose to focus on later. Also, I am trying to explore new and upcoming fields which are not saturated, with more chances. After doing things in various fields, I find there are many links between them. The combinations can create and result in new things. For example, when I edit my photography, I sometimes use my digital skills, the generative techniques, which makes my final works different from the others. However, no matter how many fields I am in, my personal aesthetic and style are constant. I have a strong personal style, making my works recognizable, no matter which media I use.

After having your work showcased in fashion magazines such as Noctis, and London-based galleries, how does it feel to be making an impression within the creative scene?

I felt so excited at the beginning each time because that means my works could be seen by more people which may bring newer, and better opportunities for me. But that feeling doesn’t last long each time. After a while, they are only the past for me, and I have new things and goals that I want to get. Also, sometimes I might feel stressed because at the very least my next work cannot be worse than my previous one. They push me to continuously seek new ideas and progress.

In collaboration with Underground, you have created a shoot entitled ‘New World Disorder’, what is the meaning behind the shoot and what does the shoot mean to you?

When I was given this theme, the initial interpretation of this subject was more about the pandemic. But when I saw this subject, I developed my own interpretation and feelings. I like the word ‘disorder’ because I love the chaotic in the normal sense, the madness without logic. I was thinking that all the orders and discipline is just stuff established by a few powerful and prestigious people, accepted by most people and then everyone is ridiculously asked to obey them. The true face of the world for me is logicless, diverse and ‘disordered’. In the new world, I prefer to present all the taboos and disordered things in the traditional world. That’s why I used fetish elements in the shoot.  

At Underground we hold values that indulge being fearless and true to yourself despite any criticism, how do you relate to this?

I like Underground’s values and to some extent, it’s also the manifestation of my personal life. I have never been fearful of any authority since I was young. The only thing I am afraid of is betraying myself and my own vision. I do not want to do anything I do not like in order to make myself pretend to be a person meant to fit into this world.

What’s next for you?

I want to be known by the world before I’m 30. Next step, I want to explore some new fields to find opportunities, like digital fashion and the metaverse. UNDERGROUND ENGLAND is looking towards the world of launching digital products. I am interested in taking part in this creative process.

Photos by Sodoma Xia

Brought to you by Underground – the brand of the Original Allgender Creeper shoe and other British subculture styles.

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

Brought to you by Underground – the brand of the Original Allgender Creeper shoe and other British subculture styles.

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