Q & A with Yijun Liao

Yijun  Liao (Pixy) is a conceptual photographer and artist residing in Brooklyn.  Much of her work is autobiographical and comments on traditional relationship roles with insight and humor.

Start your day with a good breakfast together. Photography by Yijun Liao.

A friend introduced me to Pixy’s work about a year ago, sending me the genius photograph above. So, when I came across her again on Kick-Starter and saw that she was working on an album, it was kismet. Pixy was kind enough to answer my questions and give me the scoop!

I understand you moved from Shanghai to Memphis to study photography.  What prompted that decision and how did you choose Memphis?

That was totally random. After 911, I thought that big cities like New York were too dangerous.  I wanted to go to the middle of US because that seemed safer.  And I always love musicians.  I knew Elvis was from Memphis, so it must have a lot of musicians!  And that’s about everything I knew of Memphis. I did meet one musician there, my boyfriend Moro.

Do you feel that formal education was essential to your artistic pursuits?

I do. Before going to photo school, I was worried that formal education would influence me too much and screw my own style. But I was wrong. It did influence me, but in a good way. It opened up my mind and freed me from my old self.  I was fortunate enough to study at University of Memphis photo program. I was never forced to become anyone that I didn’t want to be; I was supported at all times no matter what I did.

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Your partner is featured in many of your projects.  What is his role in the creative process?

I would say he is all a collaborator, inspiration, and a subject. First of all, Moro is my muse for my work.  My Experimental Relationship project began after I dated him for one year. He is Japanese and five years younger than me. The experience of culture shock and age difference within this relationship inspired me. When I take photos, I usually already have an idea in mind.  Then, I will explain the idea to him. We will try several times. He suggests how to approach during the shooting. Usually I give him the cable release as an illusion of control—one that I give to him. He asks me when to press the shutter.

One of your projects is titled Scenes from Unseen Films.  Please share some of your favorite directors and movies.

My favorite directors are Coen Brothers, David Lynch and Wim Wenders.
My favorite movie is Blow Up. It was because of that film, I decided to become a photographer, you know, so I can be free.

Who are some artists you admire?

Right now my favorite artist is Maurizio Cattelan. My all-time favorite is Bjork. I also like Sophie Calle.

Please tell us about PIMO and how you came up with the concept.

PIMO is a band by Pixy & Moro (me & my boyfriend). The idea is based on “Experimental Relationship”, but the music is not just from my point of view. I would say at least half of the songs are from Moro’s point of view. He plays all the instruments. My job was to hum the rhythm on the train so he could write it down as our songs.  He composes as well, and I sing in the band. We have a website: http://www.pimoband.com.  We will be releasing our debut album, Pimopera,  this month.

To see more of Pixy’s work, visit her website. Be sure to check  out her book and film projects as well!


  1. I can’t believe I haven’t seen her work before, it’s amazing!

  2. shannonhumphreys says:

    She’s so cool!!

  3. I look forward to seeing what she does next. More, more more!

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