Great Expectations, Absurd Revelations
Lulu Shur-Tzy Hou works in photography, producing striking pieces that seek to challenge representations of male and female bodies.
Lulu Shur-Tzy Hou works in photography, producing both humorous and chilling images that seek to question representations of male and female bodies. Challenging popular conceptions of gender, she explores the effect of traditional perceptions of men and women upon their appearance. Her work also points to the hiatus between women’s own perceptions of their bodies and the way in which they are seen in society.
Using her own body, Hou often takes the role of a subject whose gendered identity changes as the work unfolds. Her black and white photographic series ´Peekaboo´ (1996) provides a comical commentary on gender, through play on expectation. Each work consists of a sequence of five self-portraits. Only the lower half of her body is caught in the frame, her face and thus identity effaced.
The first photograph in each series shows the artist’s skirt; sometimes her thighs and arms are just visible too. Each subsequent image shows different stages of the artist’s revelation as she proceeds to lift her skirt. In the first work, the black skirt lifts over white fringes to reveal a big pom-pom. In the second, Hou shows off her knickers in which she has placed two spherical objects. In the final work, a large banana wedged between the ´balls´ emerges from her underwear. Charting our facile conceptions of gender, she shifts from exaggerated depictions of womanhood through to emasculated manhood and finally to masculinity. Despite the humorous slant to this work, it has generated considerable controversy. Playing with conceptions of gender it seems remains a serious matter.
Sources include: ´Dream 02´ catalogue, Red Mansion Foundation, London, 2002
Lulu Shur-Tzy Hou was born in Taipei in 1962. Before training in fine art, Hou studied philosophy at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, graduating in 1985. Four years later in 1989, Hou departed for the USA to take a Masters of Fine Art at Rochester Institute of Technology. After graduating in 1992, she attended the Certificate Programme in Photographic Preservation and Archival Practice at the International Museum of Photography, Rochester. Between 1992 and 1993 she was also Special Student of Sculpture at Alfred University. She has had solo shows in Japan, USA and Taiwan and has participated in group exhibitions in these countries as well as in the UK, Hong Kong and Canada.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Exhibition / Installation,
2002 ‘Dream 02’, The Red Mansion Foundation, the.gallery@oxo and the Bargehouse, London, UK
2000 ‘Taipei International Fotofest’, Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
2000 ‘Journey of the Spirit: Taiwanese Women Artists and Contemporary Representations’, Kaoshiung, Taiwan
2000 ‘Very Fun Park’, Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong
2000 ‘Close-Up’, University Gallery of Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada
2000 ‘Memory’, Fubon Building, Taipei, Taiwan
2000 ‘How to Use Women’s Bodies: Transfiguration of Sex, Gender and Nationality’, OTA Fine Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2000/1999 ‘Visions of Pluralism: Contemporary Art in Taiwan, 1988–1999’, National History Musuem, Taipei, Taiwan; Fine Art Museum, Beijing, China
1999 ‘Contemporary Imaging Art of Taiwan 1990–1999’, Kuo Mu Sheng Foundation Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan
1998 ‘Taiwan Art Festival’, Tainan Social Education Center, Tainan, Taiwan
1998 ‘Mind and Spirit: Women’s Art in Taiwan’, Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Exhibition / Installation,
2000 ‘Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer’, Portside Gallery, Yokohama, Japan
2000 ‘Japan-Eye-Love-You’, Art Gallery of Yokohama Museum, Yokohama Japan
1998 ‘Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer’, Za Moca Foundation, Tokyo, Japan
1997 ‘Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer’, Dimension Endowment of Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1996 ‘Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer’, Synchronicity Space, New York, USA
1995 ‘Not Only for Women’, IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1995 ‘Not Only for Women’, Up Gallery, Gaoshiung, Taiwan
2000 National Culture and Arts Foundation Grant, Taipei, Taiwan
1997 National Culture and Arts Foundation Grant, Taipei, Taiwan
1995 ‘Best from the Year Award’, Taipei Photo Festival, Taiwan
1995 Artist in residence, Brooklyn, USA