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Each, Other: Navigating Love, Culture, and Vulnerabilities

Exploring the work of Chinese photographers, Pixy Liao and Lin Zhipeng in “Each, Other” Curated by Rachel Ciesla. Showing at Griffith University Art Museum until February 3, 2024.

“Each, Other” is a captivating take on modern relationships featuring the works of two Chinese photographers, Pixy Liao and Lin Zhipeng, also known as No.223.

Deliberately curated, the exhibition provokes a unique dialogue, delving into photography as a visual art form and the intricate connections between the human body, modern life, and culture.

photograph of couple touching feet

An Unconventional Display

One of the first things you notice about this exhibition is the unconventional way the photographs are displayed.

They aren’t hung in an ordered manner. Instead, there is a inconsistent application of proximity. While some overlap, others exist in isolation, some close but not quite touching. There is a palpable sense of tension and visual exchange between artworks. With seemingly no logic between horizontal and vertical planes as well as scale and alignment, the offbeat presentation immediately sparks intrigue.

Pixy Liao: Challenging Stereotypes

Pixy Liao’s work demands re-examination of stereotypical representations of couples, artists, and the female experience. “Each, other” features work from her body of work, “Experimental Relationship”. It presents a playful yet profound exploration of love, power dynamics, and the evolving role of women in relationships.

a mans trousers with a woman finger poking through the zipper

Liao’s work portrays herself in a dominant role while her boyfriend assumes a more submissive position, subverting conventional relationship norms. It’s an acute journey into the complexities of modern relationships.

Lin Zhipeng (No.223): Capturing the Need to Love

Lin Zhipeng, known as “No.223”, is a leading figure in contemporary Chinese photography. His photographs embody the need to love in a society often marked by indifference. In a traditional culture with rigid social rules, Zhipeng’s work serves as an open diary of a generation challenging societal norms.

His photographs are confidently flash-lit and playfully posed. They capture the beauty in the mundane and the ever-changing nature of human relationships.

a girl partially submerged in a lake
a women on a bed with doves

One Body to Another

One of the most striking aspects of this exhibition is how it delves into the notion of the physical body as a vessel for experience and emotion.

These profound experiences somehow manage to transcend from one body to another through touch and action and word. The photographs vividly depict how these relationships are in a constant state of flux, requiring maintenance and adaptation.

In many instances, these depictions of relationships dismiss stereotypes and confront the traditional roles of “Male” and “Female”. These roles are especially poignant in Chinese culture which has historically demonstrated unyielding views on relationship dynamics rooted in patriarchal gender norms. Zhipeng and Liao represent a generation challenging these conventional attitudes with a more egalitarian approach.

Inside and Outside

“Each, Other” isn’t just about human-to-human relationships; it considers introspection and extrospection within the contexts of experience, society, culture, and surroundings. It sheds light on the complexities, dualities, and interconnectedness that define contemporary society in China and globally.

Liao and Zhipeng’s photography demonstrate how individuals hold themselves together and support each other, mirroring how nations, territories, and regions combine unanimously.

It emphasises that there is no strict divide between ‘inside’ and ‘outside.’ Instead, everyday interactions among people, creatures, objects, and ideas are interwoven, shaping each other in the process.

We, as viewers are invited to consider how, by articulating our intentions, sharing ideas, and asking questions, we can transform our internal experiences, emotions, and intentions into external influences that have the power to reshape our cultural, social, and economic surroundings. In doing so, we unveil our vulnerabilities, which are not weaknesses but rather gateways to self-discovery and growth. This process leads us to identify new ways of interacting with the world and with others, blurring the line between the innate and the tangible.

a leg holding a flower between its toes

My Take

Having had the privilege of experiencing “Each, Other,” I can confirm that it was thoughtfully curated to evoke introspection. The unconventional hanging of prints added a layer of depth to the exhibition, challenging viewers to engage actively with the visual narratives presented.

This exhibit reminds us that while we navigate the intricacies of modern-day relationships, we are also navigating the complexities of culture and interconnectedness.

Final Thoughts

“Each, Other” is a striking portrayal of love, relationships, and culture in the modern world. It prompts viewers to reevaluate their preconceptions, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation, much like the relationships it explores.

It is an exploration of the intertwined realms of art, culture, and love. It invites viewers to engage in a thought-provoking journey, encouraging introspection into the ever-changing tapestry of modern relationships, cultural interplay, and the expression of vulnerabilities.

Rosie Bird

Rosie is an artist and creative innovator from Brisbane Australia. With two fine arts degrees and years of experience in the contemporary art world, she has acquired a wealth of industry knowledge. She founded open-folio as a way of creating a vibrant online community of contemporary artists and helping them reach their fullest potential.

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