Sweet Feedback - PhMuseum

Sweet Feedback

RUIHUA LIANG

2020 - Ongoing

My work uses photography and performance as approaches to explore both familial and intimate relationships. This work is mostly inspired by my personal life experience and tries to demonstrate the universal complexity and fluidity of love. In collaboration with my partner, I use our intimate emotional geography to create care-taking moments of domestic life. Through documenting intimate gestures and postures, this work examines love, desire, and the power dynamics of modern intimacy.

The collaboration with my partner allows me to re-examine and re-experience the small interpersonal details that I am fascinated by. Thanks to the versatility of the photographic medium, I am able not only to convey my artistic ideas and action, but also to document and create evidence of our performative practice. My partner and I perform ordinary moments that usually take place between parents and children. The performances I have chosen to depict have double meanings. They invite the audience to question the binaries of love, such as receiving and offering, care-giving and care-taking, submission and domination, and whether the boundaries between each are rigid or blurry.

I choose photography as one of my approaches, because it is a medium that can record one single moment and leave the others invisible. People may see that in most of my photos the artist is the submissive one, while they may not think about who is in control behind the scene. Although my partner does not fully understand what I am doing during the whole process, he still chooses to follow my instruction and collaborate with me. But at the same time, without his unconditional collaboration, I would not be able to demonstrate that our power dynamic is fluid, and it changes from moment to moment. The way people interpret my photographs may be similar to how they already see love. Still, I try to make them question the stereotyped idea of a heterosexual relationship, and whether they focus too much on the potential negative aspects of this kind of love.

My work is partially inspired by the theory of sadist/masochist relationships. In any intimate relationship, no one is always submissive or dominating. Ian Young claims that “While the dynamics of S/M may reinforce the categorization of sex and sex roles. I think it is more likely to break them down.” My photographs pick up on that question. If dominance and submission are aestheticized in love and relationships, may they invite us to think of the reversibility between all binaries? Is it possible that pleasure and pain, gain and loss, weakness and power, are also reversible?

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