The photographer Lijun Liao is dating a man five years her junior, creating a personal dynamic she once thought impossible. Speaking of her girlhood in China, the artist explains, “I used to think I could only love someone who is older and more mature than me, who can be my protector and mentor.” She still faces opposition for the age discrepancy, and her male friends often compare her role in the heterosexual relationship to that of a man. Fed up with criticism and sexist norms, Liao presents Experimental Relationship, an ongoing series of experimental self-portraits in which she and her boyfriend Moro subvert traditional gendered ideas of dominance, leadership, and power. 

 

 

Each image tackles complex and deeply ingrained global representations of the masculine and feminine; in one, the artist, fully clothed, plays with her lover’s nipple as he stands without clothing, facing the camera to assert her authoritative role. In another image, she covers her mate’s view with her bobbed hair. Using food iconography evocative of vaginal euphemisms, Liao dresses her boyfriend as sushi and eats papaya from his crotch. Power dynamics are explored further when the artist and her lover take turns with a less-than-concealed cable release, a clever nod to the experimentation and unavoidable artifice of staged narrative photography. The photographs serve as the lab results, if you will, of their experimentation with the landscape of their love, confessing the complexities of their bond and exploring boundaries of the self. Take a look at the striking series below, and let us know what you think in the comments. 

 

 

Thanks to Lens Scratch

Images via Lens Scratch

Tagged in: sexuality, sexism, self portraiture, Photography, masculinity, lijun liao, gender, femininity, experimental relationship, CHINA, age   

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