Ani Liu – Untitled (woman pains), share the pain


Many women long for pregnancy half their adult lives and spend the other half remembering it with deep emotion. However, the material time of becoming pregnant is a moment full of conflicting emotions that are difficult to deal with both psychologically and physically. The process one is confronted with week after week triggers a crisis in the previously experienced equilibrium, the changes inside and outside the body can be associated with emotions and reflections that are not so easy to experience and share.
At such a psychologically sensitive time, the message directed to women may be contradictory: the changes you are experiencing can be corrected, buy this and with much effort you can return to your old self. Untitled (woman pains) by New York artist Ani Liu is a garment – a wearable belly made of silicone, silk and nylon – that, thanks to electrodes, simulates the pains of labour and allows people of all genders and ages to experience (to a tiny degree) some of the states of pregnancy and open themselves empathically to them. The ability of simulation to replicate reality is used here for a very specific purpose, namely not to replace reality itself. Wearing a technological apparatus that does not enhance personal capacity for action, but rather limits some of it, is a classic artistic strategy that also emphasises the potential neutrality of simulation. In this case, the augmented capacity is one of understanding and comprehension, it is the cognitive potential of a completely alien body being embraced that exponentially ‘increases’ our capacity for identification. It is no coincidence that the work is part of a series of works by the same artist who has used them to explore the position of women in society and the easy pitfalls of mass media, finally overcoming all inhibitions to mix the pre-established roles on one of the most intimate levels: pain. Benedetta Sabatini


Untitled (woman pains) Ani Liu