Yijun Liao: Experimental Relationship
We live in a period of time where we are able to choose who we love, no matter the age, gender, or nationality of the person. Familial or cultural pressure might shift our decisions in one direction or another, but that ability to decide who we are attracted to is what photographer Yijun Liao is exploring with her series, Experimental Relationship.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Yijun Liao currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Liao holds a MFA in photography from University of Memphis and is a recipient of En Foco’s New Works Photography Fellowship and was a winner of Flash Forward Award (Canada) in 2011, CPW Photography Now 2009, and Hey, Hot Shot in 2008. She was a Honorable Mentionee of New York Photo Awards 2009 at New York Photo Festival and a finalist of ITS Photo Award (Italy). Liao is currently a darkroom resident at Camera Club of New York. She has done artist residencies at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace program and Woodstock AIR program.
Liao’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including NordArt (Germany), kunst licht Gallery (China), Arario Gallery (NY), VT Artsalon (Taiwan), The Running Horse Contemporary Art Space (Lebanon), Pingyao International Photography Fest (China), Lianzhou International Photography Fest (China).
As a woman brought up in China, I used to think I could only love someone who is older and more mature than me, who can be my protector and mentor. Then I met my current boyfriend, Moro, who is 5 years younger than me, I felt that whole concept of relationships changed, all the way around. I became the person who has more authority and power. One of my male friends even questioned how I could choose a boyfriend the way a man would choose a girlfriend. And I thought, “Damn right. That’s exactly what I’m doing, and why not!”
I started exploring the alternative possibilities of man and woman relationship, these photos question what is the norm of a heterosexual relationships, what will happen if man and woman exchange their roles of sex and roles of power. And partly because my boyfriend is Japanese, and I am Chinese, this project also describes a love and hate relationship.