Bridge: Critical Reading & Writing Assignment Liu Bolin”the Invisible Art, the Repeat and the Lost Liu Bolin, a Chinese artist who has mastered the power of invisibility and successfully used it to gain an international reputation. As the most known “invisible man”, Liu Bolin stands out by blending in. The Invisible Man includes controversial photographs such as the image of Liu Bolin’s face replacing that of Mao’s in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, and several scenes against iconic Chinese national monuments like the Temple of Heaven and famed Nine Dragon Wall (hiding in the ity series).
Coming after the fame from “Hiding in the City’ series, Liu Bolin continued using exactly the same form to work on photographs of hiding in different cities, such as “Hiding in New York”, “Hiding in California”, and “Hiding in Italy’. Even Though Liu Bolin’s “The Invisible Man” series has won accolades for the art powerhouses and there is praise all over the international media, almost all of his photographs essentially repeat the same techniques and concepts, and protest the history, culture and pride of his own country. The Infinite Repeat
Artist Liu Bolin began his “Hiding in the City” series in 2005, after Chinese police destroyed Suo Jia Cun, the Beijing artists’ village in which he’d been working. With the help of assistants, he painstakingly painted his clothes, face, and hair to blend into the background of a demolished studio. Since then, the so-called “Invisible Man” has photographed himself fading into a variety of backgrounds all over Beijing and many other cities. Spot him embedded in a Cultural Revolution slogan painted on a wall, or spy him within tiers of supermarket shelves stocked with soft drinks.
The process of all these works has never been changed since 2005: Liu stands still for hours as his assistants paint him to match his surroundings, which helps him to disappear in the scene. And things became even meaningless when Liu Bolin blended himself in New York, California and Europe. He is Just a tourist, who takes pictures as he travels in different city, but invisible as people always see in this works. When I’m looking at Liu Bolin’s art works in the exhibition at Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, I feel like I was lingering in a small circle and could not get out.
I was drowned in the numerous fell-alike photos, which have extremely similar backgrounds, scenes, mood, colors, subjects, and the same person”Liu Bolin, who is the artist himself. In the series Dragon Panel, there are nine photographs of Liu Bolin blending into the colored wall witn traditional Chinese dragon sculptures . Besides the ditterent colors of the paint coating and the movements of the dragons, which is literally not the point, all of these photos have the same perspective, same lights, same size and same Liu Bolin blending in at the same position in each photo.
It’s really easy to tell that many of his works are Just repeat of himself. He painted himself to fade in the magazine rack in Beijing (2011) and New York (2013). If I have to say there is something different, it would be the languages on the magazines when people look at the photos very close. Super market seems like another inspired place for Liu Bolin as he painted himself so many times to blend in soft drinks, fast noodles, toys, and vegetables… which happened in different years since 2009. There is a photo named “in front of red flag” (2006) caught my eyes in which he is blending in Chinese
National Flag. Not surprised to me, in 2007, he blended three families, which look similar, into the same background”the Chinese national flag, and named those work “family’. At the same year, he created another work using American national flag and named it “American National flag”. Single countries can’t satisfy Liu, in 2008, he created another work name “UN flag” using the UN flag. A few examples “Hiding in the City’ series, the Dragon Panel 2010, 4 of 9: Magazine Rack, form “Hiding in New York” 2013 and “Hiding in the City’ 2011: Super Market from “Hiding in the City’ series 2011, 2010, and 2009:
Cereal, Made in China, and Panda, “Hiding in New York” series 2013: In front of Red Flag and Family, “Hidng in the City’ series 2006, 2007: The American National Flag and the UN flag, “Hidng in the City’ 2007 and 2008: The very important part of Liu Bolin’s works is silently against the iconic Chinese national monuments like the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, the Palace Museum and famed Nine Dragon Wall (hiding in the city series). He had photographed himself to all over the scenic spots and historical sites where represents the time-honored istory and culture of China and are the treasure and pride for an ancient civilization.
The concept is as still as the form, he wants to compel people to ponder the contentious relationship between the individual and society by silently commenting on modern sociopolitical conditions in China, because “l was a meaningless person, according to society,” Liu says. By repeating the same techniques and subjects in almost all of his photographs, Liu Bolin is well playing the “hero” of opening “China’s national identity’ and at the same time for tacit protest against the government, which Just caters to the values of the estern world.
It’s actually not a new trick to capture the attention of art moguls, spectators and critics for some artists who cannot get social recognition by the mainstream culture in their countries or communities. Recently, this “invisible man” who cannot even speak a complete sentence in English seems like living a pretty good life out of his country. In most of the interviews, Liu expresses so many times about how hard it is for people like him to survive in China and his meaningless position in that society.
However, as long as I was born in China nd raised there for twenty years, his experience most sounds like a story of a typical loser who got above himself with advanced degrees but has no ability to adapt to the real world after graduation. Just as what he said in an interview (his words were translated), “after graduating from school, for a long time I had no family, no Job and no love in my life. During those four years without love and income, I felt I had been dumped by this society and that I had no position within it. I was meaningless in this environment.
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