Tianxu Liu: power structures and food fluidity

Tianxu Liu stands in the “middle of a highway” undisturbed by cars passing by, noise or traffic rules one should obey. For him everything happens between the destination points when referring to his art practice and creative ideas. Liu researches power dynamics between the individual and different power structures. He uses traditional food as a reset so that he can always hear his inner voice.

Coming from China, Tianjin, Liu first tried painting studies in his home country, but did not find the approach of the art school satisfying. Instead of learning to copy perfectly, his truth was to learn by thinking for himself. Continuing his practice according to his own interests, he stepped back from painting as a medium and moved towards  design, video, installation, performance and ready-mades. He realised he wouldn’t be happy being an artist who followed the structure provided by standard, state institutions or general understanding of “how the artist should build up his career”. Instead Liu wished to create on the basis of his own choices. “That means – your technique is not that good, but also you are not conditioned by the standard and dare to change the perspective as necessary”.

Meeting the right people in the right time

He describes his turn to art creation through several trigger points. First – meeting the right friends at the right time and place. Secondly – in his teenage years visiting an exhibition at National Art Museum of China in Beijing where realistic, abstract and indigenous art was presented. That led him to ask the question, “What is art?” While studying design, he met the technical teacher (Mike Li) of his design studies, who supported Liu’s urge to create art connecting different medias, such as audio, physics and visuals. At Tianjin Academy Of Fine Arts he meets professor Julia Lohmann who supports his interest in interdisciplinary art creation. And finally – he gets to know Marcus Kaiser who combines fractals, mathematics, music and arts representing to Liu the future self.

images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by artist

He joins PILOTENKUECHE as a local participant whilst on his postgrad at HGB Leipzig. During the residency, Liu is continuing his research on the power dynamics between individual and different power structures. Using food and cooking in his art nostalgically helps him get back his subjectivity that was extracted while researching power dynamics of Foucault. Since PILOTENKUECHE project name involves kitchen in it’s title, it felt very organic to come here and create as well. 

Liu intertwines structure and fluidity

As an artist he distances himself from the existing power structures. For example, he researched DIN office paper standard and combined it with fluidity. This was visually represented by viewers participating in food performances. He also connects DIN standard to his own body therefore creating a new language between nature and structure as well as stretching DIN definition to different aspects of life. In the end – DIN becomes a totality of relationships between a human, nature and a state.

As for the future, he mentions increasing the gap between him and being a part of the arts education power structure and system. He wants to continue his mission to step out of the system and create an own understanding of how to create. “Framing ones art is not hard, but as soon as you do it, you are in the system. If you are not clear on your own goals, the system will eat you. Also, as a media artist, it is important to know “where I am.” He continues to stand in the “middle of a highway”.

Written by Kintija Avena


Keep up with Tianxu Liu on his instagram and at these upcoming shows.

No longer […] not yet
HGB rundgang 2024 

Vernissage: Thur 15 Feb 6PM-midnight
Open: Fri 16 & Sat 17 Feb 2-9PM, Sun 18 Feb noon-6PM

Wächterstr 11, classroom 2.20
04107 Leipzig

Order Connection Order 

Vernissage: Sat 17 Feb 7-10 PM
Open: Sun 18, Fri 23 – Sun 25 4-8PM

Alte Handelsschule
Giesserstr 75
04229 Leipzig

Barbed-wire Ghost

Vernissage: 16 March 7-10 PM
Open: Sun 17 – Wed 20 March 4-8 PM

Franz-Flemming-Str 9
04179 Leipzig