Examples of previous projects

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Eugenia Lim, Shelter, documentation from durational performance at Grey Gardens Projects 2015. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Zan Wimberley

**FORTHCOMING PROJECT**

Closing the Distance, curated by Sophia Cai at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre February 2017. 

Closing the Distance is a group exhibition at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, curated by Sophia Cai, that brings together twelve Chinese and Australian-Chinese artists to explore issues of migration, place and contemporary diaspora experience.
Closing the Distance is an exhibition about movement, location and distance, exploring human connections formed through shared cultural narratives, investigations of place and land, and personal and cultural identity as shaped through lived experience and a sense of belonging. The exhibition focuses on artists who have worked, studied or lived outside of China, but whose artistic practices make connections to this shared cultural heritage, lineage, and experience.
Firstdraft, August, 2016

Some words are just between us, Firstdraft, August, 2016. Photo: Zan Wimberley

Firstdraft, August, 2016

Some words are just between us, Firstdraft, August, 2016. Photo: Zan Wimberley

Curated by Sophia Cai at Firstdraft, Sydney. 

Some words are just between us is the first exhibition in Australia by Chinese-born, American-based artist Pixy Liao, who is known primarily for her intimate series of work that focus on the relationship between herself and her Japanese boyfriend (5 years her junior).

Part performance and part biography, the works in the exhibition present an introspective and personal perspective on themes of power and identity, focusing on the boundaries between public and private, as well as themes of everyday relations and individual life.

Conscious of traditional Confucian marriage values, which privilege the male, as well as the fraught ongoing international relations between China and Japan, Liao’s photography series can be seen as the artist’s attempt to dismantle heteronormative expectations and power structures. By positioning herself as a figure of authority, mimicking art historical subjects, performing for the camera, and subjecting the male body to a ‘female gaze’, Liao invites viewers to question accepted myths of romance and relationships. In her related video work and installation, Liao further challenges gendered tropes. The phallic obsession of these works is humorous as it is subversive, focusing on sexual desire and attraction as a means to disassemble patriarchal values.

While Liao’s works can be understood in the context of larger socio-cultural trends and the artist’s own experience as a Chinese artist living in America, its interpretation is not wholly defined by cultural context or circumstance. Rather, there are more universal themes at play here about the nature of intimacy, and more importantly what it means to live and co-exist alongside others.

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Wonky, Tinning Street Presents, July 2016. Photo: Caitlin Shearer

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Wonky, Tinning Street Presents, July 2016. Photo: Luke Maninov

Curated by Sophia Cai & Caitlin Shearer at Tinning Street Presents, Melbourne

Wonky is a group exhibition inspired by the principles of wabi-sabi – a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that celebrates the imperfect and the transient. Taking this idea as a starting point, Wonky is an exhibition that examines unpredictability and impermanence, both in art and in life.

Wonky features 13 Australian and international artists working across diverse mediums including ceramics, drawing, sculpture, jewellery and textiles. While some artists take direct inspiration from Japanese art, others approach the topic in their own idiosyncratic way. Together, their works acknowledge the uncontrollable forces of nature and the unpredictable nature of ‘making’.

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Playful, City Library Gallery, April 2016. Photo: Anna Hrachovec

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Playful, City Library Gallery, April 2016. Photo: Sophia Cai

Curated by Sophia Cai at City Library Gallery, Melbourne

PLAYFUL is a group exhibition featuring leading Australian and international artists with works in soft sculpture, ceramics, textiles, toy design, animation and illustration that celebrates playfulness, imagination and creativity. The exhibition was curated for the Melbourne Library Service, City of Melbourne, to celebrate National Youth Week 2016.

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Secret Garden, Schoolhouse Studios, October 2015. Photo: Sophia Cai

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Secret Garden, Schoolhouse Studios, October 2015. Photo: Sophia Cai

Curated by Sophia Cai and Caitlin Shearer at Schoolhouse Studios, Melbourne

‘Secret Garden’ is a group exhibition based on a study and appreciation of plants. This show was initiated, developed and curated by myself and Caitlin Shearer, an artist based in Sydney, and brings together 22 emerging Australian artists, illustrators, and designers. ‘Secret Garden’ examines the power of plants and all things botanical as a source of artistic inspiration, as represented through a broad range of mediums including painting, drawing, photography, soft sculpture, glass, printmaking, zines and textiles.

Although plants are the unifying theme, the works in the exhibition explore different aspects of the personal relationship between humans and plants – whether that is one based on beauty, commemoration, memory, awe or companionship. Each artist’s personal experience and interpretation of plants fuels the distinctive imagery for their works. The focus on plants brings up connotations of intimacy, vulnerability, resilience, and growth. In a world of noise and clamour, the silence of plants offers a powerful remedy of respite and calm.