Jen Liu is a New York-based visual artist whose practice includes painting, video, and performance, focused on the topics of economy as cultural imaginary, labor’s intersection with national identity and gender formation, and the re-imagining of archival artefacts and industrial objects. Her work often starts with research-based fictions. From existing socioeconomic and political conditions, she builds speculative narratives that reveal our latent social desires, meaning to critique the limitations of existing solutions for social problems, while expanding the imaginary around these issues.
Liu is attracted to mediums that seem “thin” – paintings on paper, video, music, and performances – forms that express material impermanence. This is related to her interest in propaganda, posters, and sloganeering – manmade objects whose authority is subject to the transit of history, prone to divergent swings in meaning. Their instability further reveals the intrinsic, intimate connection between social policy and desire. Originating fantasies – about national, gender, and economic identities – can be warped and juxtaposed in ways that reveal unexpected convergences. “Minor stories”, such as safety tutorials, meat manufacture, and small objects of feminized hygiene - reveal the nuances of the “major stories” of globalization, the interlocking systems of the exploitation of female labor.
One of her recent videos, The Pink Detachment, premiered in the 2016 Berlinale Forum Expanded exhibition, and her recent performance commission for six dancers, The Red Detachment of Women, premiered at the Whitney Museum in mid-2015. She has also presented work at The New Museum, New York; Royal Academy and ICA in London; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunsthalle Wien and das weisse haus, Vienna; Coreana Museum in Seoul, Korea; Aspen Museum of Art, CO; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; MUSAC, Leon; as well as the 2014 Shanghai Biennale. She has also received multiple grants and residencies, including Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany; Sommerakademie, Bern, Switzerland; de ateliers, Amsterdam, NL; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York; Para/Site AIR in Hong Kong and LMCC on Roosevelt Island.
Liu was awarded a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film & Video, and was one of the four recipients of the 2018 Art + Technology Lab Awards at LACMA (Los Angeles County Musuem of Art).