Hung Liu – Golden Lotus
Dimensions: 48 x 56”
Medium: oil and silk on canvas (diptych)
When Hung Liu was a youth, she was removed from school and sent to the Chinese countryside to labor as part of her “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution. The small image in the viewer’s left panel of the Golden Lotus, Red Flag diptych is a painted version of one of Liu’s few photographs of her young self. Carrying a gun, standing in the fields, this image served as an aspirational image for Liu, showing the social justice warrior she would become.
In contrast to the warrior panel in Golden Lotus, Red Flag, the other panel of the diptych depicts a woman whose feet had been bound. A common practice in historic China, foot binding essentially hobbled the woman to the extent that they had no ability to move quickly to defend themselves or to escape aggression. While the revolutionary ballerinas in the left panel might seem strong, their feet were bound in another way. Liu once told Tonya Turner Carroll that while the ballerinas looked like “modern” women, their toe shoes hobbled them and limited their movement similarly to foot binding. Liu was trying to present her opinion that even though China seemed to be offering “modernization” to women, there were still gender handicaps placed upon even the most “modernized.”