My work starts with research-based fictions. From existing socioeconomic and political conditions, I build fictional characters and fabricated narratives that inhabit forms of wish fulfillment. Visual and aural pop cultural tropes are forced against multiple lines of archival research, in contested accounts of the past and present.
This approach originates in a dual desire: to critique the limitations of existing solutions for pressing social problems, while expanding the imaginary around these problems. I hope to deflate the abstraction built around traditionally leftist approaches, and embrace the concept of materialism: not only as an intellectual endeavor, but through embodiments in physical form: exaggeratedly tangible images, objects, props, costumes, direct lines of gesture and likeness, that can accessed emotionally and through the senses.
I am attracted to mediums that seem “thin” – paintings on paper, video, music, and performances – forms that express material impermanence. This is related to my interest in propaganda, posters, and sloganeering – manmade objects whose authority is subject to the transit of history, prone to divergent swings in meaning within a single lifetime. Their instability further reveals their intimate connection to human desire.
Since 2011 I’ve been working on multiple bodies of work loosely grouped as The Humours, based on the four biological humors (black, blue, red, and yellow), each conceived as “proposals for new life”. For Yellow, I re-filmed a 1977 Baldessari video as a giallo/yellow film, a genre of Italian B-horror, in which I addressed the circularity of victim and victimizer in media constructions of the “liberated woman”. In Black, I tracked America’s desire for a return to industrial production as an absurdist fantasy. This was embedded in the art historical surrealism that ran parallel to America’s industrial development, as well as Modernism’s primary forms, used to reimagine industrial manuals for a far-off future for which the language of business is impossible to predict. Geometry takes the place of language in such videos as Safety First (Bad, Don’t Touch, Mercy!), 2013, and The Machinist’s Lament, 2014.
Now in Red, I have been developing “variations” on The Red Detachment of Women, a ballet from China’s Cultural Revolution, in which a young peasant slave joins an all-women army in a Communist paradise. I’ve taken the original and reframed it according to the conditions of female labor in China today – particularly as workers within industrialized meat production. With China’s recent pork shortages, the pig has become a concrete manifestation of crises in rising quality of life, resource management, and industrial ethics – and as a symbol of home for the Chinese, it’s a crisis in national identity itself. Both The Red Detachment of Women (performance), 2015 and The Pink Detachment, 2015, ask whether it is possible to re-motivate the archival artifact, the old ballet. They both put the original music and choreography back to work, still for the production of national value through violence, but in a completely methodologically different way. How much of the past ideals attend quotation, or must it always be hijacked by the requirements of the present?
In my current body of video and performance work in development, Pink Slime Caesar Shift (working title), I shift focus to China’s beef shortage. It is a symbol of China’s future, and its hunger for the Western and the “modern”. I use the hamburger patty as a symbol of China’s Wild West approach to industry and genomics, a banal and infinitely replicable symbol in which cultural memory, covert political resistance, cryptography, the secret history of female programming and languages, and biotechnological reproduction without the fuss, converge. Here, original music and choreography will be imperfectly replicated, echoing the idea of advancement through replication and mutation. Despite the political extremity and the intense tangibility of China and meat respectively, this is not just about China, or meat. This is about the social-productive possibilities of the female body in large-scale coordination, and the possibility of cultural continuity amidst historical rupture.
Throughout “Red” period I have produced The Pink Detachment Paintings. While loosely related to the video and performance, they also are a more generalized look at the idea of Soft Power, the supposed rise to dominance of women in the working world, and other concepts related to Affective Labor. They depict a series of large feminine fingers pushing and prodding, wielding their pressure power on semi-abstract objects and bobbed head-bots. They are also “diagrams” of various hard-to-describe jingoistic concepts in contemporary society and industry, earnest attempts to understand while also a critique of their conceptual absurdity. Further, they posit that power-made-visible can only be as cartoonish as a bunch of disembodied fingers pushing things around. The wielding of power has become so invisible and ubiquitous, that its locatability as an image may only be absurd, a diversion from actual solutions.
2003 – 2005
De Ateliers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
1999 – 2001
MFA Fine Arts and Integrated Media, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California.
1994 – 1998
BA Creative Writing, BA Studio Art High Honors, Oberlin College, Oberlin Ohio.
SELECTED ONE & TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS COMMISSIONS
Digital Billboard Platform: Jen Liu’s The Pink Detachment, LAXART, Los Angeles, CA.
The Pink Detachment, SomoS Kunsthaus, Berlin, DE.
The Red Detachment of Women: Performance for 6 Dancers, co-commissioned by Triple Canopy and The Whitney Museum, Whitney Museum, New York, NY.
The Managers, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.
SAFETY FIRST, Mallorca Landings, Palma de Mallorca, ES.
Come One Come All (permanent commission), Citizen M Times Square, New York, NY.
Melon Mysticism for Everyone. Commissioned by ISCP in collaboration with NYC DOT and ISCP, Manhattan Bridge, NY.
Initial Public Offering, Space of Drawings, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Six Colorful Stories: John Baldessari, Jen Liu. Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
Brody Condon, Jen Liu, On Stellar Rays, New York.
Volta NY Art Fair, solo booth (Ceri Hand Gallery).
The Last Alphabet / Pasta Belt Health, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.
Insurrection for a Million or One, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.
Drastic Measures, Unknown Pleasures, Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
An Innocent Revolution, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN.
New Dawn Fades, Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, Los Angeles.
DM.0086: A Local Map of Broken Glass, Division Museum of Ceramics and Glassware, New York, in collaboration with Barb Choit.
Rotterdam Art Fair, solo booth (Upstream Gallery).
The Last Four Seasons, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Ready To Die!, Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, Los Angeles.
SoFriends Electric!: Jen Liu, Andrea Thal, Binz39 Foundation, Zurich.
Videos van Jen Liu, Melkweg Media, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Jen Liu, Folkert de Jong, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS, PERFORMANCES AND SCREENINGS
WE ARE NOT THINGS, curated by Hannah Whitaker, Invisible Exports, New York, NY.
Traversing the Phantasm, Berlinale Forum Expanded exhibition, Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, DE.
China Time: Secret Sounds. Hamburg, DE.
Art Dubai Film, Dubai, UAE.
Jen Liu (solo screening), Fundacja Nosna at Henryk, Krakow, Poland.
Jen Liu (solo screening/presentation), CCA Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
Utopia Is No Place, Utopia is Process, curated by Jacqueline Mabey, USDAN Gallery, Bennington College, VT.
Triple Canopy: Standards and Standardization (online).
Jen Liu, Attaque(e)r le visible at La Mutinerie, Paris, FR.
Berlinale Forum Expanded, curated by Stephanie Schulte Strathaus, Anselm Franke, and Uli Ziemons, Academy of Arts, Berlin, DE.
Film Montage, Coreana Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea.
Screening the Speculative: Melika Bass, Jen Liu, and Peter Hopkins Miller, New Museum, New York, NY.
The Ism That Dares Speak Its Name, PARMER at Abrons Art Center, New York, NY.
Socialism, Really? Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY.
The Cost of Wealth, a project of Jubilee and Goethe-Institut in collaboration with CINEMATEK, Argos and deBuren, Brussels, BE.
Transformer, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.
Poet Transmit (performance), curated by Victoria Keddie and Cat Tyc, St Marks Church, New York.
Shanghai Biennale, curated by Anselm Franke, Cosmin Costinas, and Freya Chou, Shanghai, China.
Unto Void Fulfills This Place, das weisse haus, Vienna, Austria.
Monsanto Shadow Symposium (performance), Radical Archives CFP, NYU A/P/A Institute, NY.
Ready-To-Hand, Sunview Luncheonette, Brooklyn, NY.
Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria.
Only Dead Fish, Upstream Gallery / Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam, NL.
Hold This Object Up Until There is Nothing Left of You, Modern Edinburgh Film School, Scotland.
Implausible Imposters, Ceri Hand Gallery, London.
I Like the Way You Move, Edinburgh Art Festival, White Space, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Pleasure Paradox, Gallery MK, Milton Keynes, UK.
#catcamp, Helper Projects, Brooklyn, NY.
Nite Flights, Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, Scotland.
Present and Accounted: ENACT, Performance Art Festival, Cleveland, OH.
The Scenery Changes Three Times: Brian Belott, Matthew Craven, Sara Cwynar, and Jen Liu, Schema Projects, Brooklyn, NY.
Cacotopia, Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK.
We Are 2-Up, Bowery Poetry Club, curated by Sue Scott Gallery, New York, NY.
Folio (group exhibition and performance), Soloway Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
Harvest (performance), Antechamber, Copenhagen, DK.
Reverse Engineering, Paraflows, Vienna, AT.
Bottoms (performance), On Stellar Rays, New York, NY.
Fuel for the Fire, Dawn Kasper + Human Resources LA/NY, New York, NY.
Blink: art, Gwangju, Korea.
Space. About a Dream. curated by Catherine Hug, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria.
Monodramas / Act 4, curated by NADA for New York City Opera, New York.
Art Rotterdam Video Hall, curated by Zapp Magazine, Rotterdam, NL.
Utopian Structures – New Existentialism Part 3, Gebert Stiftung für Kultur, *ALTEFABRIK, Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland.
Localhost, AZKM Kunsthalle Muenster, Muenster, DE.
Memory of A Hope, Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
Eslov Wide Shut, curated by Stefan Lundgren, Blomsterberg’s Warehouse, Eslöv, Sweden.
You Can Heal Your Life! curated by Emma Gray, Circus Gallery, Los Angeles.
Never Can Say Goodbye: The Way Out, curated by Lauren Rosati for No Longer Empty @ Former Tower Records, New York.
Scope Foundation: “d.i.y. sci-fi”, curated by Zach Layton, Scope Art Show, New York.
Exploitation on Demand, curated by Karin Laansoo, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin, DE.
Jen Liu, Mie Olison, Gurdjieff Players, Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY.
36 Dramatic Situations, Louis V E.S.P., Brooklyn, NY.
Malleable Memory, Aicon Gallery, New York.
Upstream Cinema: David Haines, Jeroen Jongeleen, Cristobal Leon and Jen Liu, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam, NL.
All Things Being Equal, Raritan Valley Community College, Raritan, NJ.
NADA Gala (performance), New York.
Black Hole Hums in B Flat, Ceri Hand Popup, London.
Fugue State (performance), Dorsche Gallery, Miami, FL.
APT at Pulse Miami, Pulse Fair, Miami, FL.
Filmsalon: Claudia Kugler, Kunstverein Nurnberg, DE.
Building Paradise, 7+Fig, Los Angeles.
Vision Division: Olaf Brzeski, Theresa Froelich, and Jen Liu, Czama Gallery, Warsaw, Poland.
NEWAGERIOT, Country Club/Los Angeles.
MONITAUR, Aspen Museum of Art, Aspen, CO.
The Last Session, Flemish Cultural Center, Amsterdam, NL.
University of Trash, The Sculpture Center, Queens, New York.
EXHIBITION, Exhibition 211, New York.
Agrifashionistas, Royal Academy, London.
NADA Emerging Artists Gala (performance), New York.
Without Sun: Brody Condon, Jen Liu, Avelino Sala, and Adriaan can der Ploeg, Virgil de Voldere Gallery, New York.
New Collections III, Centre PasquART, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.
Shifting Identities, (Swiss) Art Now, Kunsthaus Zurich.
The Violet Hour: Matthew Day Jackson, Jen Liu, and David Maljkovic, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle.
The Golden Record, Collective Gallery/Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh.
Dream of Today, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles.
An Aside, special exhibition of Zoo Art Fair 2007, London.
NADA Art Fair (Upstream Gallery & Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery), Miami, FL.
The Present Order is the Disorder of the Future, De Hallen Museum, curated by Xander Karstens, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Mind Hacking II, organized by Theresa Frölich and Antonia Lotz, Wewerka Pavilion, Münster, Germany, traveling.
Paper Bombs, curated by Bart Exposito, Jack Hanley Gallery, Los Angeles.
M*A*S*H, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart and Omar Lopez-Chahoud, The Helena, New York.
The Fit/Turtle, Nueans in collaboration with Michael Shamberg, Dusseldorf, DE.
The Return of the Seven Samurai, Galerie Lucy Mackintosh, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Romer II, Akademie Schloss Solitude Romerstrasse Gallery, Stuttgart, DE.
Flood Lit Wendy House, New York Rio Tokyo Gallery, Berlin.
NADA Artfair (Upstream Gallery and Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery), Miami, FL.
View (Eleven):Upstate, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, Mary Boone Gallery, New York.
Liverpool Biennial:Virtual Grizedale, A Foundation, Liverpool, UK.
Big City Lab, Art Forum Berlin.
Experiments in Pop, curated by Laura Hoptman, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland.
Liste Artfair Basel (Upstream Gallery), Basel, Switzerland.
Peekskill Project 2006, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY.
Trial Balloons, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon, Leon, Spain.
Jen Liu + Bjorn Melhus + Claire Rojas, Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, Los Angeles.
Things We Saw in Holland, Kravets/Wehby Gallery, New York, NY.
Carlos Aires / Jen Liu / Melvin Moti / Elodie Pong, Galleria Laurin, Zurich, Switzerland,
Explosive Compulsive: Reed Anderson, Adrianne Colburn & Jen Liu, Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco.
NADA Artfair Miami (Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery and Upstream Gallery), Miami, FL.
Liste Artfair Basel (Upstream Gallery), Basel, Switzerland.
Futurism, Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Fast Forward: A Passion for the New, curated by Scenic in affiliation with MOCA LA, House of Campari, Venice, CA.
Videonale 10, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany.
Open Video Call, Artists Space, New York.
100 Artists See God, Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Traveling exhibition through Independent Curators International. Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Laguna Beach Art Museum, California; and Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY; tours through 2006.
LA Freewaves: Karaoke Boat, Los Angeles.
Biennale Bonn: New York State of Mind, Bonn, Germany.
Through the Gates: Brown vs. Board of Education, California African American Museum, Los Angeles.
Futureways: The Middelburg Triennial 2304, curated by Rita McBride, Glen Rubsamen, and Rutger Wolfson, de Vleeshal, Middelburg, The Netherlands.
Homies, DianePruess Gallery, Los Angeles.
Nueva 2003 Tokyo, Laforet Museum Harajuku, Tokyo
Filmstock, Luton, England. Traveling to Oulu International Film Festival, Finland
An Interest in Life, curated by John Baldessari and Meg Cranston, Apex Art, New York.
GRANTS / RESIDENCIES
Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Tulsa, OK.
Para Site AIR, Hong Kong.
LMCC Process Space, New York.
Quartier 21, Vienna, Austria.
Krems AIR, Krems, Austria.
2008 / 2009
ISCP, New York.
Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany.
Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland.
Grizedale Arts, Cumbria, England.
2003 – 2005
De Ateliers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Weinstein, Matthew. “Machine Dreams and Painting’s Extremes: Matthew Weinstein on Jonathan Lasker and Jen Liu,” ARTNEWS, March 10, 2016. http://www.artnews.com/2016/03/10/machine-dreams-and-paintings-extremes-matthew-weinstein-on-jonathan-lasker-and-jen-liu/
Kang Kang, “Really, Socialism?!” Yishu Magazine, March/April 2016. http://yishu-online.com/browse-articles/?832
Steinbruegge, Bettina. “Rueckblick: Berlinale 2016 – Von Phantasmen, Haltungen und Erfahrungen,” Spike Art Magazine, February 21, 2016. http://www.spikeartmagazine.com/de/artikel/rueckblick-berlinale-2016
“Dansende Arbeiders in kartonnen dozen,” NRC Handelsblad, October 23, 2014.
“Letter to Marisa Merz,” PERSONA, Sternberg Press, Berlin, DE, 2013.
“Jen Liu, Initial Public Offering 0000: SOD,” New Danish Art, Copenhagen, DK, 2013.
Dawson, Kelly Chung, “Chinese Art Goes Public in NYC,” China Daily USA, August 2, 2013.[Chinese language interview], World Journal, July 11, 2013.
Skye Sherwin and Robert Clark, “Exhibitionist: This Week’s Art Shows in Pictures,” The Guardian, September 16. 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/sep/17/exhibitionist-art-shows-in-pictures#/?picture=379075208&index=6
Davis, Laura, “New York Based Artist Jen Liu….” Liverpool Daily Post, September 13, 2011.
Gerhard H. Kock, “Weltweit daheim und unterwegs,” Borkener Zeitung, June 1, 2011.
Sabine Müller, “Kölsche Südsee-Träume,” Rurh Nachrichten.de, June 6, 2011.
Hallett, Nick, “BOMBLOG: A Night At the Opera,” Bomb Magazine (online), April 5, 2011.
“Weltraum. Die Kunst und ein Traum,” ZDF, broadcast April 9, 2011.
“Weltraum. Die Kunst und ein Traum,” Dradio, broadcast April 4, 2011.
Davis, Kim, “High Brow on the Lower East Side,” The Big Apple Magazine, January 2011.
Carlin, T.J., “Brody Condon & Jen Liu,” Art Review, January and February 2011.
Patrick Gantert, “Brody Condon and Jen Liu…” wowhuh.com, February 7, 2011.
Chayka, Kyle, “Two Kinds of Abstraction At On Stellar Rays,” Hyperallergic, December 6, 2010.
Fee, Brian, “3×300: Jen Liu, Christiana Soulou, and Paul Lee.” NY Art Beat, November 19, 2010. http://www.nyartbeat.com/nyablog/2010/11/3×300-jen-liu-christiana-soulou-and-paul-lee/
“Klaus Part 2 Volta and Armory New York March 2010.” http://www.fadwebsite.com/2010/03/08/klaus-part-2-volta-new-york-march-2010/
“Five Questions for….Jen Liu”, MetroLife UK, October 29, 2008.
“Artwork of the Week – Jen Liu”, Liverpool Art and Culture, November, 2008.
“we”, Catherine Wagley, Artslant, July 21, 2008
“ArtCal Pick: Without Sun”, artcal.net, July 2, 2008.
Regina Hackett, “Jen Liu and a Group of Rising Artists Move Out of the Art World’s Daze”, Seattle P-I, June 28, 2008.
Graves, Jen. “The Lunatic is on the Grass.” The Stranger, August 28, 2008.
Graves, Jen. “Artists of the Apocalypse Speak.” In/Visible, The Stranger Podcasts, June 25, 2008.
Gray, Emma. “Jen Liu at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, LA.” Saatchi Online, November 10, 2007.
“Top 10 Shows in Los Angeles This Month”, Saatchi Online, November 3, 2007.
“L.A. Confidential,” Emma Baker. Artnet, May 19, 2006. http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/gray/gray5-19- 06.asp
“Review: Globos Sondas” Max Andrews. Frieze Online. 2006.
Colin Berry, “Explosive Compulsive at the Luggage Store.” Artweek, February 2006. p13-14, illus.
“Focus Los Angeles: Jen Liu.” Flash Art, January-February 2006, p.72, illus.
“Who Are These People Showing So Much, And Why Do They Feel The Need To Be Seen?” Kenneth Baker. San Francisco Chronicle, January 7, 2006.
Hiya Swanhuyser, “Explosive ‘Compulsive’.” San Francisco Weekly, December 8, 2005, illus.
“20 Bright Young Things: Jen Liu.” ArtReview, December 2005, illus.
Christopher Miles, “Jen Liu at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery,” Artforum, September 2005, p. 312.
Shana Nys Dambrot, “Jen Liu at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery,” Artweek, June 2005, Volume 36, Issue 5, pg. 17,(cover image: detail of “Light as Air, Light As Love: Diamonds of the Earth”).
Knight, Christopher. “A Harsh Yet Enchanting World,” Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2005.
“A Powerful Atmosphere for New Ideas,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2004.
“Toekomst werpt licht op heden,” Provinciale Zeewuse Courant, The Netherlands, January 30, 2004.
“Highlight: 100 Artists See God,” Contemporary Magazine, Issue 57, December 2003, p 24-25, illus.
Reindl, Uta Maria. “Cyberfem Spirit – Spirit of Data,” Kunstforum International, December 2001, p 326-327
Dogramaci, Burcu. “Frauen, bits und bytes,” Suddeautsche Zeitung, Nr. 295, December 22/23, 2001.
Gardill, Von Ingrid. “Frauen und die Kunst im Netz,” Nordwest-Zeitung, December 12, 2001.
10th Shanghai Biennale: Social Factory, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China.
Reverse Engineering, Paraflows, Vienna, Austria.
Eslov Wide Shut, Eslöv, Sweden.
Space. About a Dream. Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria.
VOLTA NY 2010 Artists’ Book, VOLTA, New York,
The Last Session, Flemish Cultural Center, Amsterdam, NL.
The Violet Hour: Matthew Day Jackson / Jen Liu / David Maljkovic, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA.
An Innocent Revolution, Depauw University, Indiana.
“PROP” Proud to be a V.I.P., Nueans, Duesseldorf, Germany.
Sommerakademie 2006 im Zentrum Paul Klee: Experiments in Pop, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland.
Globos Sondas, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon, Leon, Spain.
Art Forum Berlin: Big City Lab.
Videonale 10. Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn Germany.
Friends Electric! Binz39 Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland.
100 Artists See God. Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, 2004, p 14, illus.
Futureways. Printed Matter, Inc., and Whitney Museum of American Art, 2003, p 64, illus.
Cyberfem Spirit: Spirit of Data. Helen von Oldenburg and Rosanne Altstatt (eds.), Edith-Russ-Haus fur Medienkunst, Oldenburg, pp 30-33, illus.