Jen Liu is a New York-based visual artist working in video, performance, and painting, on topics of national identity, economy, and the re-motivating of archival artifacts. She graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in Creative Writing and Studio Art (BA) in 1998 and California Institute of the Arts majoring in Fine Arts with a minor in Integrated Media (MFA) in 2001. Her most recent video, The Pink Detachment, premiered in the 2016 Berlinale Forum Expanded exhibition, and her recent performance commission for six dancers, The Red Detachment of Women, premiered at the Whitney Museum of American Art in mid-2015. Liu’s solo exhibitions include “Digital Billboard Platform: Jen Liu’s The Pink Detachment” (LAXART, Los Angeles, USA, 2016); “The Pink Detachment” (SomoS Kunsthaus, Berlin, 2016). Group exhibitions in which she has participated includes “Jen Liu” (CCA Warsaw, Poland, 2016); Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai, China, 2014); “Unto Void Fulfills This Place” (das weisse haus, Vienna, Austria, 2014); “Shifting Identities, (Swiss) Art Now” (Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2008); “Agrifashionistas” (Royal Academy, London, 2008); “100 Artists See God” (ICA, London, 2004). In 2016, Jen Liu was one of the artists-in-residence in Para Site, Hong Kong.
Jen Liu currently lives and works in New York, USA.
The Pink Detachment
Jen Liu’s bodies of work cover paintings on paper, video, music and performances, which reflect her interest in propaganda, posters, and sloganeering. Her practice critically engages leftist abstractions and representations of power systems through research-based fiction and the reactivation of archival artifacts, often investigating the theme of the role of female labour in industrialisation. The Pink Detachment is a contemporary reinterpretation of The Red Detachment of Women (1970), a ubiquitous model opera ballet from the era of the Cultural Revolution in China. By adapting the original story of a peasant girl joining the revolution to the workstation of a female meat-processing worker in a hot dog factory, Jen Liu demonstrates the homogenisation of the gradually unremembered communism (red) by the newly capitalistic system of the bourgeoisie (white), which turns into a plea for labour rights in a liberal economy (pink). When capitalism becomes the reigning societal condition, the downside of neo-liberalism might reappear as an authoritarian order.