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About the event

Soft Skills artist Jen Liu will screen and discuss her video work The Pink Detachment (2016), as well as portions of her work in progress, Pink Slime Caesar Shift. Following her presentation Liu will be joined by artist and performance theorist Aliza Shvarts for a conversation on resistant reproductive temporalities and opacity as an intersectional strategy.

A counterpart to the paintings on view in Soft Skills, Liu’s The Pink Detachment reinterprets The Red Detachment of Women (1970), a Model Opera ballet from China’s Cultural Revolution, replacing its peasant girl protagonist with an accident-prone, inefficient meat worker. Valorizing “pink slime,” a processed paste of low-grade meat scraps, Liu’s work proposes a speculative solution to China’s current crises in meat supply. The work shifts the register of the color pink, as a symbol of femininity, from “natural” fleshy softness to a synthetic, potentially violent, hybridity.

Liu’s new multi-part work Pink Slime Caesar Shift comprises another generative fiction about meat production in China, centering on the inability of Chinese factory workers to organize due to state-controlled social media. If synthetic meat based on stem cell technologies is grown on an industrial scale, the work suggests, workers may have a new vessel for distributing secret messages through ciphers programmed into the meat’s genome.

Liu’s talk will elaborate on these projects and their many sources of inspiration, from Drunk Tank Pink, a bubblegum shade known for its palliative psychological effects, to the “charm offensive” soft power tactics of Asia’s international relations. The artist will also discuss her ongoing field research with labor organizers and NGOs in China.