“In our society, there seems to be a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.”
– David Graeber, anthropologist
“Everyday life is the primary terrain of social change.”
– Silivia Federici, activist, Wages for Housework
Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is pleased to present Ecologies of Care, a solo show of recent works by Ani Liu, a former LES Studio Program resident, on view at 88 Essex Street from May 27 through August 6, 2022.
Ecologies of Care showcases a series of new works created during the artist’s postpartum period, in contemplation of the labor of mothering. Reflecting the material culture of infant and childcare, the works shown are created with breast milk, formula, diapers, breast pumps, toys, tracking apps, and screen time.
Echoing throughout the exhibition is the sound of a pump that circulates milk within the gallery space. Created as a material reference to the artist’s intimate experience with breastfeeding and pumping, the volume of milk present in Untitled (Feeding Through Space and Time) ranges from the amount produced in a single session of feeding to a month’s supply of lactation.
Labor of Love provides a data portrait of the enormous amount of invisible labor that pervades caring for a newborn. Reflecting on the historic devaluation of “women’s” work, this sculpture documents the labor often made invisible, questioning the types of work we value, and the care that we often take for granted.
The Surrogacy questions the relationship between technology, reproduction, and the biopolitical control of bodies as a means for production.
Finally, a series of A.I.-generated toys fuse the relationship between the construction of identity and instruments of play, while exploring the cultural and psychological influences that inform caring for children. Created using a machine learning algorithm trained on real products marketed as “boys” and “girls” toys, these invented toys expose one source of the gendered social values that we place on children and critically ask how we might rewrite and redesign play.
With special gratitude to all the care workers and family support that made this show possible: Han Di Liu, Min Liang Liu, Adam Belanich, daycare teachers Ruth Fanelli and Gael Kramer. Special thanks to research assistants Ana Morris, Michelle Lim, Andrea Li, Ryan Thorpe, Jenny Zhang, engineer consultants William Liu and Julian Goldman.
Quotes are from the book Essential Labor by Angela Garbes and the article “Can Motherhood Be a Mode of Rebellion?” by Jia Tolentino.
Ani Liu is an internationally exhibiting research-based artist working at the intersection of art & science. Her work examines the reciprocal relationships between science, technology and their influence on human subjectivity, culture, and identity. Reoccurring themes in the work include gender politics, biopolitics, labor, reproduction, simulation, and sexuality.
Ani’s work has been exhibited internationally, at the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica, the Queens Museum Biennial, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Asian Art Museum, MIT Museum, MIT Media Lab, Mana Contemporary, Harvard University, and Shenzhen Design Society. Ani’s work has been featured on National Geographic, VICE, Mashable, Gizmodo, TED, Core77, PBS, PCMag, FOX and WIRED. Ani is the winner of the Princeton Arts Fellowship (2019-2021), the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship (2020), the Virginia Groot Foundation Fellowship (2020), the S&R Washington Prize (2018), the YouFab Global Creative Awards (2018), the Biological Art & Design Award (2017).
Ani has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, a Masters of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a Master of Science from MIT Media Lab. Ani is passionate about integrating multidisciplinary approaches to art making, and is currently an Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Princeton University, Columbia University, and is on critique panels at Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, NYU, UNC Charlotte, Pratt, Parsons.
Ani continually seeks to discover the unexpected, through playful experimentation, intuition, and speculative storytelling. Ani’s studio is based in New York City.