Shanghai-born and now Brooklyn-based, Pixy Liao is a visual artist who’s on an ongoing exploration of gender dynamics in heterosexual relationships. Originally working as a self-taught graphic designer after graduating from college, the lack of creative control over the work forced her to rethink her career path. In 2005, she moved to the U.S. to study photography and there she ended up meeting Moro, her boyfriend and the main subject in the majority of her works. In Pixy Liao’s ongoing photo series Experimental Relationships, one of her most well-known projects, her boyfriend is depicted as being vulnerable and submissive, qualities that are stereotypically attributed to women. Besides Experimental Relationships, her other works also often challenge Asian societal expectations of relationship roles. For Soft Heeled Shoes, Pixy 3D printed a pair of silicon penises modeled after her boyfriend’s actual genitals and used them as heels on a pair of yellow suede shoes, which is meant to be a metaphor for their relationship. Recently, Neocha spoke to Pixy to find out more about her thoughts on gender and the collaboration process between her and her lover.
旅居纽约布鲁克林区的视觉艺术家廖逸君，她的作品一直在探索异性恋中的两性的化学反应。毕业后成为了一名自学成才的平面设计师， 缺乏创意的工作方式让她重新考虑自己的职业。2005，廖逸君前往美国学习摄影，在美国和男友Moro相识，也发现了她作品中的主要主题。 在她进行中的摄影系列作品，也是知名的作品《Experimental Relationship》中，她的男朋友Moro展现出娇弱和唯唯诺诺的姿态，被赋予了传统观念中女性的性格特质。除了《Experimental Relationship》，她的其它作品也常挑战着亚洲社会中的传统的人际关系。《Soft Heeled Shoes》也是她的代表作品之一，她用3D打印出她男友的实际比例的硅胶生殖器，把它作为黄色翻毛皮的高跟鞋的鞋跟，这个作品她把他们的关系比喻成这双高跟鞋。近期新茶和廖逸君展开了对话，去探讨关于性别和她和她男友的合作。
Neocha: Generally speaking, sexuality and feminism are subjects that aren’t openly discussed in China. How do you feel like this has influenced your work?
Pixy: When I just started making creating art, I was not influenced by sexuality and feminism. It was purely from my personal experience. I grew up in China and it’s true that sexuality and feminism were not talked about at all. I was so naive that I wasn’t even aware of homosexuality or feminism when I was a teenager. But I do think my work does make references to feminist issues and themes; other people often referred my work to feminism. When I first encountered feminist text and theory, I actually felt surprised to see what I had been thinking and doubting my entire life being discussed.
Neocha: What does your family or Chinese friends think of your work? How receptive are they and what type of feedback did you receive in the beginning? How has this changed as your work evolved?
Pixy: As mentioned in my artist statement, this work was partly inspired by my Chinese friend’s comments about our relationship. One of my male friends even questioned how I could choose a boyfriend the way a man would choose a girlfriend. I thought, “Damn right. That’s exactly what I’m doing and why not!” After having continued on with this project for ten years, most of my friends shifted their attitudes. They no longer question my decisions and started to really accept me as who I am. I think a lot of my friends really got to know me through my work.
廖逸君: 就如我在我的创作理念里提到的，我作品一部分是受到中国朋友两性关系观念的启发。曾经我的一个男性朋友甚至质疑我 “你怎么可以像我们挑选女友一样挑选男友呢？” 我想，“这他妈就对了，这就是我干的事，有何不可？” 在这个作品持续创作了十年之后，我的大多数朋友转变了他们的态度。他们不再质疑我的决定，并开始接受真实的我。我想很多我的朋友都是通过我的作品来真正地认识我。
Neocha: Much of your work is about the power shift in gender. Rather than a gender being more submissive or dominant than the other, what are your thoughts on gender equality?
Pixy: I don’t believe in gender equality. I think people need to fight for their own rights and opportunities. It’s not just as simple as saying that men and women deserve equality in everything.
Neocha: Besides only exploring the dynamics of male and female relationships, Experimental Relationship is also meant to be a dissection of cultural differences between Japan and China (or as you noted, “a love and hate relationship”). Can you expand on this?
Pixy: Japan and China has a long and complicated history. It’s usually tense and sometimes it can even be hostile. But the two countries influence each other so much; their history is intertwined. I see it as somewhat similar to a love and hate relationship, and in a way, it’s similar to our own relationships. I think everyone who is or was in a relationship experiences the love and hate dynamic at some point. As much as you love him or her, there will always be times when you cannot put up with the other person. The hatred comes out of love because love is only ideal in our own imagination. In many of my photos, the poses can be explained by both love and hate. For example, when I’m kissing him, I’m choking him at the same time, or a hug looks both tender and aggressive. A relationship is built by two lovers and also two rivals. But even when problems arise, I still believe we need to stay together and mend it, just like our two countries.
Neocha: 除了探索性别关系中的的化学反应，《Experimental Relationship》也是一个对中日文化差异的解剖（或者就如你提到的，“爱恨交织关系”）。你能再深入谈谈这个层面吗？
Neocha: Many of your works are collaborative projects between you and your boyfriend. You’re the driving force behind most of the photography and visual projects. Your band PIMO, however, stems from Moro being a musician. Do you feel like dabbling in each other’s art has shifted your relationship dynamic? What is it like for you as a visual artist to be working with music and collaborating with your boyfriend on his personal projects?
Pixy: I think it as a good way to balance our relationship. Being in the band is my way of paying him back. It also fulfills my dream of becoming a musician, which was impossible if I was just doing it by myself. I like to think of a couple as a unit, almost like a pair of siamese twins. You become more powerful and multi-functional. We usually introduce ourselves as PIMO (the combination of our names, Pixy and Moro). Working with music is quite different than working with visual arts. It emphasizes on the feeling of time, mood, breath, etc. For me, visual art is more straightforward, whereas music is more abstract. I used to play bass but I was horrible at it. I don’t have much music talent. When we play music together, Moro seems to become someone else. He would be very strict on me and become almost like my mentor.
Neocha: Do you feel like the music that PIMO creates ties into your visual work? If so, what are the overlaps and are they intentional?
Pixy: I believe there are overlaps. The music is more from Moro’s point of view. In the music, I become the protagonist more often, whereas he is the protagonist in most of my photos. Sometimes our lyrics are influenced by the photos. Like there’s a song called “Wanna be a Tuna”, and I feel like it fits so well with my photo of Home-made Sushi. We’re also working on our third album now!
廖逸君: 我相信两者是有重叠的。音乐作品更多的是从Moro的角度出发。在音乐中，我常常成为那个主角，而在我的大多数摄影作品里，他才是主角。有些时候，我们的歌词也受这些摄影作品的影响。比如《Wanna be a Tuna》这首歌，我觉得它和我的摄影作品《Home-made Sushi》相辅相成。目前，我们正着手创作我们的第三张专辑。
Pixy Liao: Venus As A Boy will be shown at Leo Xu Projects in Shanghai until October 25th.
《廖逸君：男孩维纳斯》将在上海 Leo Xu Projects 展览至10月25日。