The Silent Strength of Liu Xia

28 Feb – 16 Jun 2014

Poet and photographer Liu Xia (*1959) is a banned artist in China, and her work can only be seen in private or on the internet. 

She is the wife of Liu Xiaobo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and po­litical prisoner, who was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for co-authoring Charter 08, a liberal manifesto, in which he called for an open discussion on the implementation of democracy in his country. This challenge, signed by tens of thousands of Chinese citizens including leading representatives of the academic and art scene, was inspired by Charter 77 and the ideas of former Czech president Václav Havel. Václav Havel played an important role in international efforts calling for Liu Xiaobo‘s release, and he asked Liu Xia to show her photographs in Prague as part of this campaign.

Since 2010, when Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xia has been under illegal house arrest with no means of communicating with the outside world. Her strangely unsettling photographs featured in the exhibition entitled The Silent Strength of Liu Xia were created in 1996–1999 during her husband’s forced stay in a labour camp, and reveal the unofficial Chinese reality, subject to repression and censorship.

On 17 February 2014, Amnesty International issued an “urgent action” on Liu Xia due to her critical state of health, caused by her long-term isolation.

The Silent Strength of Liu Xia is the first public exhibition of Liu Xia’s work. It was first shown at the Musee Landowski at Boulogne-Billancourt in October 2011, and during 2012 and 2013 also at:

Centre culturel de la ville de Madrid

Centre culturel Monjuich, ville de Barcelone

Columbia University, New York

University of Richmond, Virginia

Hong Kong University

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Taipei Human Rights Museum

Berlin Kunsthalle

Warsaw Geremek Foundation, Gallery Soho

Hamburg Kunsthalle

Tokyo international Press center

Kyoto Foil Gallery

Claremont McKenna College, Los Angeles.

An exhibition catalogue is on sale at the DOX cashdesk for 220 CZK. 


Liu Xia (*1959, Beijing) is a poet and photographer whose work focuses on freedom of expression and is rooted in traditional Chinese values. She has been a noteworthy figure on the contemporary Chinese art scene for more than three decades, although in China her work can be seen only in private or on the internet. In 1996 she married writer Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed in 2009 for his open letter to the Communist Party. Since his imprisonment, Liu Xia has been her husband’s spokesperson. After Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, his wife Liu Xia was placed under house arrest, which continues to this day.

Curator: Guy Sorman

Cooperation: Michaela Šilpochová and Leoš Válka

Photos from the exhibition opening 27 February, 2014.
Exhibition partner: