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


What if a woman and man exchange gender roles in their relationship? An art project, ‘Experimental Relationship’ by Pixy Liao, a Chinese-born American artist and photographer, was initiated to explore that question. 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 was created in the United States, and the artist understands that the majority of China is not yet prepared to accept such works, the real target of this project is the public of highly patriarchal societies 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. Therefore, so far her work seems to have had more opportunities to be viewed by a Western audience and people with interests in the contemporary art.


As she notes in the statement, Pixy started working on this series after realizing that her new relationship with Japanese boyfriend Moro, who is five years junior to her and ‘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 relationships often are. Moro takes the role that conventionally a female has played, the ‘object of desire’, and the one who acts the part that the male counterpart tends 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 interacts, 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 address 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 this in the act of pinching the 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。


View All

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s