There is an exhibition at the exquisite Italian Academy at prestigious Coumbia University in New York that has people talking. The jarring, troubling showing of these and other heart-wrenching photographs, smuggled out of China, are the work of poet and photographer Liu Xia. She is the wife of Liu Xiabo, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
The aim of the controversial exhibition, organized by curator Guy Sorman, was to honor Liu Xia. She only agreed to the showing of her smuggled photographs if it could honestly be said she had no idea of when or where they would be shown. She feared, obviously, official Chinese government retribution.
As a so-called underground artist in China, the wife of Liu Xiabo sought to draw attention, in her stylized chiaroscuro tableaux, to the paucity of political breathing and thinking space on the mainland. Hence the haunting “ugly babies” approach aimed at shocking and even frightening the viewer into the reality of the China this artist envisions as its true reality.
The exhibition was co-sponsored by The Alliance Program, Columbia University and the Ville de Boulogne-Billancourt, France. It continues until March 1, and will then travel to Madrid. Gallery hours are weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays from 12:00 to 6:00 pm in Manhattan.