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Pixy Liao

Jimei x Arles Discovery Award 2018

Pixy Liao is exemplary of a new generation of photographic artists experimenting in the possibilities of the photography to depict modern partnership. The artist’s works emerge from personal experience and her own intimate space, yet take into account socio-cultural pressures, questions of nationality in a globalized world and the dynamics of gender roles, significant both within the Chinese context and abroad. 


Her ongoing long-term project “Experimental Relationship” began in 2007. In this work, she stages photographs with her Japanese boyfriend, Moro, to explore how national culture influences and dictates interactions in a romantic relationship. In her photographs, Liao often portrays herself in a dominant role, while her boyfriend assumes positions of submission. Five years her junior, she credits Moro as inspiration for this ongoing series, explaining, “Moro made me realize that heterosexual relationships do not need to be standardized. The purpose of this experiment is to break the inherent relationship model and reach a new equilibrium”. Liao structures her images to appear often above her boyfriend, looking down on him from above, or fully clothed while he is naked. These subtle staging’s intelligently reverse "expected" gender roles in the image. This work forces the viewer to question his/her gaze and to take part in their performance which seems to continue long after the photograph is taken and hung on the wall. Each scene, staged meticulously to reference normative gestures from visual culture or socio-cultural tendencies, becomes active when we, the viewer interacts with it - imbuing it with our individual, private, cultural and gender bias.  


- Holly Roussell

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