Funny, clever, beautiful constructions, the work of Brooklyn-based photographer Yijun Liao features in former New Yorker Visuals Editor, Elisabeth Biondi’s new photography show
Pixy Yijun Liao. Born and raised in Shanghai, China, she currently lives in Brooklyn. She won second prize in the Portfolio section of the 2013 Lensculture Exposure awards.
Her project Experimental Relationship is in the spotlight again because of former New Yorker Visuals Editor Elisabeth Biondi who has curated the Three show at the Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, Atlanta.
It’s rare to see a series of images that marries the conceptual and the narrative image, shot through with a serious dose of humour. This is a series about power and the reversal of power. With titles that suggest a kind of self-help/how-to guide, Pixy Liao’s images deconstruct familiar gender roles, with a rare observational wit. She’s also sculptural in the way she uses her boyfriend as material to create new objects.
In the Artist’s Statement on her site, Pixy Liao explains some of the context for the project: “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, who is 5 years younger than me, I felt that whole concept of relationships changed, all the way around. I became the person who has more authority & power. One of my male friends even questioned how I could choose a boyfriend the way a man would choose a girlfriend. And I thought, “Damn right. That’s exactly what I’m doing, and why not!”
Experimental Relationship is charming, cruel, conceptually sharp but also deliberately lo-fi, in the construction of the image. There’s a little bit of considered carelessness, not least in the fact you can see the remote camera lead enabling the photo to be taken. Liao breaks down the rituals of relationships into humorous and delicately arranged relationship diagrams. Absurd, conceptual, beautiful, we asked Pixy Yijun Liao a few questions below.
Your website is called Bloody Pixy. Why ‘Bloody’ Pixy?
Pixy is my nickname, it’s transliterated from my real name in Shanghainese dialect. And Bloody Pixy has been my online username since I started using the internet. I just always had that website domain and kept it. I was into something extreme at that time. But these days, I decided to switch to yijunliao.com instead of bloodypixy.com. So people will be less confused.
What did you discover in the experiment of Experimental Relationship?
Relationship is always changing. Even our relationship changed so much during the eight years of the project. One has to be adaptive to change yourself to balance it.
Of all the advice you give to viewers in Experimental Relationship, which piece of advice, and which image was the most unexpected lesson?
That would be “Relationships work best when each partner knows their proper place.” The image was taken in 2007 and was among the first images of this series. Even though it sounds cruel, but I found it absolutely true in all kinds of relationships. And this image sets the tone of the project.
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