Photographs taken by Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, are to be exhibited next month at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Taipei, Taiwan.

The show will include 26 images and poems created by Liu during the years her husband was imprisoned in a labour camp between 1996 to 1999. The collection will be on display from March 30 to May 26.

Liu Xiaobo taken by his wife, Liu Xia. Photo: Museum of Contemporary Arts in Taipei.

Liu Xia’s late husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He was jailed for 11 years for inciting “subversion of state power” after he penned Charter ’08 – a manifesto urging democratic reform. He died in 2017 after battling liver cancer while on medical parole, making him the first Nobel laureate to die in custody since 1938. His wife had been under de facto house arrest since 2010 but was allowed to board a flight to Germany last July to receive medical attention, where she remains.

“The exhibition features artworks created by these two female artists who are both family members to victims of political persecution,” organisers said in a statement. “Liu Xia used to bear a terrifying life of isolation informed by her husband’s two years of imprisonment due to his alleged role in the Tiananmen Square protests, his three years in a labour camp and another eleven years of imprisonment… however, her life under constant surveillance filled with fear, solitude, distress and helplessness…”

The show, entitled Breath Swing, will include Liu’s work alongside exhibits by contemporary Taiwanese artist Tsai Hai-ru.

Health concerns

Organisers told HKFP that Liu Xia will not be attending the opening of the exhibition because of her “current physical condition.” She has also said she is concerned about the safety of her brother in China if her visit to Taiwan were to anger mainland authorities, according to Taiwanese state media. Tsai, however, is expected to attend the opening.

Liu Xiaobo (left) and his wife Liu Xia. Photo: Nobel Committee.

Tsai’s father was arrested and imprisoned for fourteen years as a political dissident during the “White Terror” in Taiwan, a period of suppression following an anti-government uprising in 1947 known as the February 28 Incident. The movement was violently quashed by the Republic of China’s Kuomintang. Tsai’s grandfather was also incriminated in the uprising.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.