Blindspot Gallery is please to present the works of Pixy Liao this year at UNSCHEDULED 2021. Following the success of her first solo museum show Your Gaze Belongs to Me at Fotografiska New York this year, Liao’s works at UNSCHEDULED will span a series of photographs, videos, objects and a wallpaper installation.
Pixy Liao is known for her staged photographs featuring interactions between herself and Moro – her Japanese partner 5 years her junior. Liao’s series of images take on an underlying humour whilst challenging male and female roles within standardised relationship models. Treating her relationship as an experiment, she develops the ongoing Experimental Relationship project where she and Moro subvert gender stereotypes in front of the camera. As the photographer and the director, Liao embraces dominance, initiating contact in most images whilst Moro adopts the role of the submissive and objectified muse, reversing the superiority and the history of the male gaze. These unique dynamics range from subtle to explicit.
Challenging displays of affection in public spaces, Liao brings her practice outdoors in Hug by the Pond (2011) and Get a firm grasp of your man (2010) where their comfort with vulnerability is tested and conservative ideas of concealing intimacy are challenged. Almost all the time, we spot the shutter release in the palm of Liao or Moro’s hand; suddenly, the audience is equally vulnerable as we become aware that we are being examined and provoked with our voyeurism. Capturing Moro in dresses and kimonos further questions the necessity for representation, in both Find a woman you can rely on (2018) and You don’t have to be a boy to be my boyfriend (2010), Liao shows that gender fluid expression does not make him any less of a man.
Atop a desk, Breast Spray (2015) is Liao’s ready-made sculpture in which she assembles a silicon breast to a water sprayer filled with milk. Besides rendering the breast into an object, Liao weaponises this female organ of nurture by altering the nipple into a nozzle. In the accompanying film Milking the garden, she demonstrates the function of the object by spraying Moro’s face aggressively, blinding him with milk. Behind the object, a wall-sticker shows a larger-than-life Moro dangle from a clothes hanger, his limp body surrendering him into a prop. The inanimate Breast Spray appears to assert more power than him.
Taking a closer look at things, we come across For Your Eyes Only, Liao’s photographic series of bodily close-ups. Simplified forms are composed with the curvature of buttocks and breasts, images of touch intensify sensations of intimacy, but not without humour as mundane acts transform into theatrical performances. In Debut (2012), red curtains part to reveal a mooning bottom; and in Play Station (2013), red nail varnish draws explicit attention to the fingertips attempting to censor nipples. A phallic representation emerges in Ping Pong Balls (2013), as a hand grips a white cloth pouched with a pair of balls.
One wall of the booth features a unique wallpaper designed by Liao, exhibiting a playful pattern with repeated icons of breasts and penises. Music plays from within a small kitchenette. On a small CRT television screen, two PIMO (Liao and Moro’s art and music collective) produced films, We Girls (2015) and What is the meaning of this? (2018) present Liao and Moro conducting an array of cheeky antics. Liao’s works reveal the constant flux and multiplicity of relationship dynamics and gender reversals, permitting a pathway for mutual understanding with her blatant humour. Her photographs present with clarity a model that provides women an expansive vision of possibilities beyond their society’s preconceived notions.