Fundamental to the ideologies of mainstream capitalism is the notion that if you work hard enough, you can buy what you want. But everybody knows that Charlie only got his golden ticket through an incredible stroke of luck. “Everybody knows”*.3 that Veruca Salt’s dad was rich. That’s how it goes, and everybody knows. I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. Locking iPad puts the display to sleep, saves the battery, and prevents anything from happening.*.4
Li Liao’s 2015 solo exhibition Attacking the Boxer from Behind is Forbidden at Klein Sun Gallery in New York involved an encounter with a large, aggressive professional boxer, who stalked behind a sketched out ring inside the gallery. Violence can be provoked at any time, and usually those without golden tickets are able to find it that much more quickly.
Today Li Liao, conversed with Flaunt through cognitively stratified layers of human-to-human translation.
Art tends to be synonymous with “beauty.” How do you determine if something is ugly?
There’re tons of quotes about beauty. So that’s to say there’s no right answer. The way I view the beauty of a work is only in the choice of materials and one’s control of one’s own body. Ugliness certainly then is of bloatedness.
“What surprised you about your job”?*.5
Never surprised. When I create something that resonates, it’s not something I can control because the public is also a material part of the work.
Have you ever made something you thought was of high quality and intelligence that just wasn’t understood by anyone else?
No—there will always be people who misunderstand, including me. In reality however, this isn’t an issue that I think about.
How far into the future do you like to plan?
When it comes to the future of art, I can’t say. But because I now have a daughter I’ll make some works here and there to sell. When it comes to art, you see it and you do it.
When did you become proficient at skirting the firewall and freely accessing the Internet? Have you taught any younger students or family members how to do this without getting in trouble?
I started skirting the firewall at a relatively young age, but I don’t do it now. And I haven’t taught anybody.
* Osnos, E. “What is an iPad Doing on a Pedestal at a Chinese Art Museum?” The New Yorker, January 2013.
*.2 Bhalla, V. “Mocktale: WhatsApp admin of 5 groups resigns from his job to focus on WhatsApp life,” The Times of India, October 2015.
*.5 Osnos, E. The New Yorker, January 2013. † Original question read: We assume you are constantly working to produce art—if so, are you ever surprised by which works resonate with the public?