Ebony and ivory live together in perfect
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we? – Paul McCartney
Since 2007, the artist Pixy Liao plays, experiments and portrays her relationship with her partner Moro, 5 years younger than her and of Japanese nationality. Although she has been living in New York for years, she grew up in China where she felt the pressure that the “right thing” was to be with someone older than her and to follow the norms around heterosexual relationships. As soon as she realized that her story with Moro defied certain conventions and, in some way, empowered her, she started the “Experimental Relationship” project, which has been evolving for years alongside her relationship with her partner.
The photographs exhibited in Pixy Liao’s first solo exhibition at L21 Gallery are from the year 2021 and were created during the pandemic. During those months the couple traveled to cities near New York and in one of the places where they stayed there was a piano. The instrument was the trigger for the series of photographs “Piano Duets”. As the artist explains, there is a parallel between these images of four-hand chords and a couple living together: you need to be listening to each other all the time and be at the same level of focus and positivity to play the notes beautifully together.
In addition to being visually beautiful, looking at these photographs where an instrument is being played stimulates us to imagine sounds, albeit subliminally. In this way, the sense of sight is no longer the only one that intervenes, allowing emotions to arise from remote places. In fact, Pixy Liao’s photographs often evoke senses such as touch or even taste, which enrich our perception of the images.
Other exhibited works such as “Forefinger” or “I Push You” poetically subvert the power relationship between men and women that is socially internalised. They are disconcerting in a subtle way, but enough to make us see that something challenges us, or even bothers us. This allows us to reflect on stereotypes or our own prejudices around relationships. The “Piano Duet” exhibition invites us to observe the beauty that emerges from the photographs and at the same time listen to our self-talk, which might surprise us.