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Yi Liu



At the intersection of history of photography and the art of Modern China, Liu’s research concentrates on the visual culture of China since 19th century with an involving interest in politics of body, identity, gender and the nation. Her recent research attempts to investigate Jiang Qing’s (1914-1991) own artistic practices through photography from the 1950s to 1970s as she pursued public recognition and political leadership before and during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), a socio-political campaign launched by her husband Mao Zedong (1893-1976) to consolidate his authority through the revolutionary campaign in ideological spheres. This study discussed the three major subject matters in Jiang’s published photographic works in chronological order, which demonstrated her growing association with politics and exemplified the changing substance of “art photography” in China during that period.

Graduated from Ohio University with a Master’s Degree in Art History in 2012, Liu’s academic endeavors evolved and enriched through her teaching and work experiences in China. She has taught History of Western Art and Art Theory at both the Department of Photography at Tianjin Normal University and the International Foundation Course, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. In 2014, she started to work as the Exhibition/Opinion Editor in The Art Newspaper China. She was responsible for daily reports and special features of multiple internationally influential art events, such as art fairs and exhibitions, including Photo Shanghai 2014—the first international photo art fair in China, Chinese video artist Wang Jianwei’s solo exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum “Time Temple”, and the International Symposium “The Dimension of Civilization”, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan.

Another major component of Liu’s focus is her independent research projects. Her recent cooperation with an emerging Chinese documentary photographer Zeng Zekun investigated how images of Mao Zedong (1893-1976) were disseminated, perceived and treated both ideologically and materially in different eras. The subject of our project is the secular temples dedicated to Mao in use nowadays. By interviewing the regular visitors, keepers and organizers of the temples, we discovered the intricate blend of Taoist tradition, the cult of personality and the ongoing social problems in the lower class in these temples and the great potential of this topic.