07 january 2014 / art / words kate nicholson

01-02 I am Mia Liu, 2008; 03-04 Peach Punch, 2009; 05-06 Falling Into One Side, 2010; 07-08 In Her Dreams, 2010; 09-10 Can’t Stop Rolling It Up, 2010; 11-12 Guggen’ Dizzy, 2009-2011; 13-15 The Readable Sculpture, 2013; 16 Mia Wen Hsuan Liu.


It was while Taiwanese artist Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu was working behind the admissions counter at the Guggenheim Museum in New York that she decided to dedicate all of her time to art. “During that year, I realized that if I didn't try to become a professional artist, I would be selling tickets at the museum my entire life,” the 33-year-old says. 


Instead, she procured 200,000 museum passes and used them to create numerous circular “installation drawings." These sculptures, which incorporate paper cut techniques, plays of light and shadow and optical illusion, have been shown widely since Liu left New York and moved home to Taiwan, most significantly as part of the 2009 Asian Art Biennial, in a solo exhibition at non-profit Taipei art space IT Park in 2011 and as part of CODA Paper Art 2013. They will be presented again at Art Singapore 2014 by Taipei-based Liang Gallery. A stint in Scotland in 2011 as a Glenfiddich Artist in Residence sparked a spontaneous but welcomed move into video art and photography, while a grant from the Taiwan government to take part in the Cité Internationale des Arts residency between August 2013 and January 2014 has sparked a move back to painting. "The last time I painted was 2008," Liu says.

The Readable Sculpture series and accompanying The Black Book Reading Room, both commissioned by Eslite Bookstore's Art Studio in 2013, are among Liu's latest attempts to combine drawings, three-dimensional forms and installation. After spending time in the bookstore observing the habits of the store's customers, Liu realized that most people selected a book because of its content. "As a visual artist, I decided to focus on the book's materiality: the weight, the size, the way of binding the book," she says. This led to a series of "readable sculptures" –books piled on top of each other, Tetris-like–and a participatory event where she turned visitors' books into art pieces that they could take home with them.


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