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“When making artwork, your gender matters”

We revisit Pixy Liao’s series Experimental Relationship, which uses her own relationship to subvert traditional gender roles

Female in Focus is a new award that seeks to elevate exceptional work by female-identifying photographers.Throughout the submission period, we are speaking to photographers whose work encompasses the values that lie at the heart of the award. Pixy Liao’s work sheds light on traditional gender roles, asking us to question their place in society, and in particular, heterosexual relationships. 

© Pixy Liao, from the series Experimental Relationship

“Our society has all kinds of expectations of us depending on our gender,” says Pixy Liao. “I’m interested in exploring who people would be if they didn’t have these expectations placed on them.” Liao has been shooting her series Experimental Relationship over the last 10 years. In the series of playful images, she subverts the traditional gender roles that lay the foundations of many heterosexual relationships, asking us to re-examine what is considered to be normal. 

Liao’s life and work are inexplicably intertwined, and Experimental Relationship is constantly evolving with her relationship. Drawing on life with her boyfriend Moro, who is five years her junior, Liao celebrates and examines their sex, gender and power dynamics. “The project gives us a chance to see ourselves in the images,” she explains, “and to think about, and reflect on, the roles we play.”

For Liao, all work she creates is deeply personal. She sees value in borrowing heavily from her daily life, and similarly in the impact the making of the art can have on it. Her experience as a woman, living both in China and in the US, is a particular source of interest for Liao, and she views gender as a factor that is unavoidable when making art: “As an artist you make work based on your experience as a person,” she says. “In our society, you have very different experiences in life based on whether you are male or female. Therefore, most of my photographs are about my experience as a woman.”

Female in Focus is calling for exceptional photography by women. Want to win a group show at United Photo Industries Gallery in New York? Apply today!

© Pixy Liao, from the series For Your Eyes Only
© Pixy Liao, from the series For Your Eyes Only
© Pixy Liao, from the series Experimental Relationship
© Pixy Liao, from the series Experimental Relationship
© Pixy Liao, from the series Experimental Relationship
© Pixy Liao, from the series Experimental Relationship

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