© Pixy Liao, Hush Baby, 2010

When was the last time you were asked to carry something or someone? When was the last time you felt you had to carry something or someone?


Before you explore this task, please read Pixy Liao texts here. In pairs, look at It’s Never Been Easy To Carry You by Pixy Liao and answer the following questions:

© Pixy Liao, It’s never been easy to carry you, 2013
  • What do you think happened or is happening?
  • Can you describe to one another why you may not usually see a female carrying a male on her like that? 
  • Do you think if we saw more images like this we would think differently about gender roles?
  • Does this type of image feel familiar or uncomfortable? What does it make you feel? 
  • The photographer has placed herself in the image (sitting). What do you think she is trying to tell us?
  • If you could, what would you ask her about this image?


Complete these physical tasks

  • Stand up and feel the weight of your body.
  • Feel your feet on the floor, or your hands against a hard surface.
  • Move into the pressure of it, hold yourself as much as you can.

Ask yourself, would this pressure feel different if you are disabled? Might this physical pressure feel different if you are in a specific mood such as happy, sad, in love or stressed?


Discuss the idea of carrying the weight of another person in relation to carrying your own weight

  • What would this do to you?
  • How would you move with it on you. Could you? Or not? 
  • Would this body feel different to someone else’s? Why might it, or not?


From the physical to the emotional

Set aside the idea of carrying physical weight. When we say we ‘carry’, we carry in different ways. There is also the more abstract, emotional idea of carrying the weight of something. It is not necessarily a physical reference. It can be a metaphor for how we might support someone, or when something is weighing on your mind. 

The following quote from Liao tells us what she is exploring in her own work, suggesting what affects her thinking about gender and society:

What will happen if man & woman exchange their roles of sex & roles of power? 

Answer the following questions:

  • Do genders carry weight in the same way? For example, in society? 
  • In your family, who carries the weight of the finances, the emotions, the care, the childcare, or the grocery shopping?
  • In your friendship group is there one person who carries the emotional weight of the group? Is there the one person who everyone goes to for advice?
  • Do you carry the ‘weight’ of others, if so how?
© Pixy Liao, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, 2015

More on Pixy Liao here


Media Representation (A photography project)

Give students a varied selection of magazines to browse through (and cut up). Using these magazines, ask students  to search for any images that illustrate the idea of carrying someone else’s weight.

Using the magazines, invite students to create a photo-collage that represents some of the ways in which we carry someone, illustrated by how we behave towards them, or through something we provide for them? 

Comments from the Contributor

You may perceive this image illustrated as an alternative idea or concept since we are not often presented with women being power or in control, or as the person who carries the weight. This idea in some cultures is hidden or ignored to create a narrative/story that only males who are strong enough to carry the weight do or that you have to be male to be in a position of power or control. 

Other artists our contributor thinks might inspire you

Barby Asante

Frowhawk Two Feathers

Othello de Souza Hartley

Gayle Chong Kwan

Christa Holka

Jacob V Joyce

Alice Reyes-McNamara

Ana Kazaroff


About the contributor

Teresa Cisneros is a Chicana (Mexican-American) living in London.  An arts administrator by choice though she has practiced as a curator and an educator.  Cisneros has worked with many art institutions including Nottingham Contemporary, Tate and the Serpentine to explore care, policy making, learning, and institutional change. In 2016-18 at The Showroom she curated Object Positions to explore cultural equity, decolonial processes and colonial administration. She is a part of Agency for Agency and is Inclusive Practice Lead at Wellcome Collection. She is interested in reconstructing cultural institutions in a more socially just way.

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