Liu Xia – French Exhibition: the pain of China’s artists and intellectuals

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Liu Xia
Liu Xia’s husband, Liu Xiaobo, cradles a lifelike doll in this photo, part of an exhibit of her work. View photos

Liu Xia, the wife of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, typically leaves the spotlight to her husband, but a new exhibit of her photography — smuggled out of China — has thrust her onto the international stage.

The exhibit, “The Silent Strength of Liu Xia,” opened last week at the Boulogne Museum just outside Paris. It features 26 photos incorporating lifelike dolls, which Ms. Liu calls “ugly babies,” one of which can be seen in her husband’s arms.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A woman looks at Ms. Liu’s photos in Boulogne. View photos

Ms. Liu is best known for her relationship with Mr. Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion after urging the Chinese government to open itself up to multiparty elections. She is currently under house arrest.

Compared with China’s other famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, Ms. Liu has kept a relatively low profile. Her association with political activists, though, has pushed her underground: She’s never exhibited her works in public, because her art is censored in China. In the past, only her inner circle of friends have seen her works, either online or in small, private showings.

In a City Journal article, her friend Guy Sorman, a French journalist, said she “may be the most important photographer in China today. She is also, however, a forbidden artist.”

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