Pixy Liao’s ‘Experimental Relationship’: How Does It Work?


What if a woman and man exchange their gender roles in a relationship? An art project ‘Experimental Relationship’ by Pixy Liao, a Chinese born American artist and photographer, was initiated with such a question that the artist conceived. Through the performative, female dominant mode of interactions, reflecting intimacy in a relationship as well as conflicts, Pixy ‘experiments’ with and challenges normative conceptions about gender roles in a heterosexual relationship. Although the work is created in the United States and the artist sees the majority of Chinese has not yet prepared to accept such works, the real target of this work would be the public of highly patriarchical society like China, Japan and other Asian countries. Indeed, Pixy approaches such an audience, examining social undertones and carefully selecting occasions and settings for the presentation of works, and as such, her works seem to have more opportunities to be viewed by the western audience and people with interests in contemporary art so far.


As she notes in the statement, Pixy started working on this series after realising that her new relationship with Japanese boyfriend Moro who is five years junior to her, ‘younger, prettier and obedient,’ would be taken as a form of subversion in her native China. In the photographs the roles of men and women are overturned as their relationship often is: Moro takes the role that conventionally a female has played, the ‘object of desire’; and who acts that the male counterpart tended to play is Pixy. Still, the work is not only to claim women’s power and more authority. Moro is not a silent, passive object, and in the process of production, he acts and interact, even creating new scenes, as Pixy said in an interview.


I see the world as an unequal place. There are always some people who have more rights than others, whether they are male or female. Pixy Liao in It’s Nice That

Furthermore, the body of work, since Pixy is Chinese and Moro is Japanese, touches on a complicated relationship between China and Japan. Therefore, their interactions can be read as a dialogue between Chinese and Japanese. The tension, the brutality, the affection, the control, the care… such elements of a romantic relationship addresse a different level of politics, which is about power in a wider sense—or about the imbalance between two subjects based on their inherent, cultural differences. Pixy expresses it as a ‘love-and-hate relationship’ and we see in an act of pinching nipple of one’s lover another dimension.

As she notes that her aim of the experiment is to find ‘a new equilibrium’ in this ‘unequal’ world—a project exploring power relations based on the sexual difference is, intrinsically, to see ‘how a relationship works.’










ピクシー・リャオ HPより(筆者翻訳)




世界は不公平な場所だと思います。いつも、男女に関係なく、他の人よりも多くの権利を持つ人がいます。―ピクシー・リャオ「It’s Nice That」でのインタビューより抜粋 この作品はさらに、ピクシーが中国人で、モロが日本人であることから、中国と日本の間の複雑な関係性に触れており、ピクシーとモロの行為は、中国人と日本人の対話としてみることもできる。そこに写っている緊張、残虐さ、愛情、そして支配...ロマンティックな関係のさまざまな側面が、異なるレベルのポリティクス、いわば、生得的、文化的差異にもとづく不均衡にまつわる力関係を示している。ピクシーはそれを「愛憎関係」と表しており、そう言われてみれば、愛する者の乳首をつまむ行為は別の次元でも捉えられると気づく。


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