Yijun “Pixy” Liao’s photography aims to reframe the way society perceives “gender” and “nudity” as often covered by modern-day media. By shooting it from a whole new camera angle reversing the socially anointed roles of the sexes.
The destruction of gender convention and deconstruction of society’s stylescape proves a hot topic with more than one 80后 (born after 1980) Chinese artist.
This generation moves forward China’s relatively newborn open and outspoken notion of equality in sexuality. China’s “other”-sexuals: From social sinners to soul-seeking saints in the time span of 20-something years.
Liao in her “Experimental Relationship” series deconstructs China’s resolute definitions of gender and power in fascinating and humorous flashes of role reversal.
Liao is a recipient of NYFA Fellowship in photography, Santo Foundation Individual Artist Awards, Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, En Foco’s New Works Fellowship, and LensCulture Exposure Awards.
She has done artist residencies at the University of Arts London, School of Visual Arts RISO Lab, Pioneer Works, Light Work, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Center for Photography at Woodstock, and Camera Club of New York.
Liao is mostly known for her series “Experimental Relationship,” depicting the artist with her Japanese boyfriend, Moro — five years her junior. The artist in this regard remarks, “As a woman brought up in China, I used to think I could only love someone who is older and more mature than me, who can be my protector and mentor. Then I met my current boyfriend, Moro. As he is five years younger than me, the whole concept of relationships for me changed. It became reversed. I became the person who holds the bigger authority and power in the relationship.”
The idea behind the “Experimental Relationship” series was, therefore, to explore what happens if a man and woman exchange their assigned roles of sex and superiority, leaving behind any existing preconceptions. A deconstruction of China’s immovable gender and power roles, one might even argue.
The elaborate photography project challenges gender norms in regard to media and sexual expression. Moro is often depicted in the nude, but non-pixelated censorship applies through the clever use of posture mainly used by female models and actresses.
Liao has participated in exhibitions and performances in institutions internationally, including the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China); He Xiangning Art Museum (Shenzhen, China); the Museum of Sex (New York, USA); Asia Society (Houston, USA); Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool, UK); Chambers Fine Art (NY); Leo Xu Projects (Shanghai, China); and Firstdraft Gallery (Sydney, Australia), etc.
And now on display inside Antwerp’s Stieglitz19 gallery.
Challenge convention. Challenge yourself. Challenge the challenge.