The Invisible Man...Hiding in the City

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  • The following excerpts were taken from an exclusive interview with Lui Bolin, for Yatzer.

    Chinese artist Lui Bolin, known by the international media as the ‘Invisible Man’, explores the ideas behind his ‘Hiding in the City’ project (HITC), his political stance on Chinese society and culture and his artistic practices.  The ‘Invisible Man’, in his own fascinating way, comments and reflects on China’s rapid development and its meaning in today’s modern artistic expressions.

    Lui Bolin, holds a B.A. from Shandong University of Arts, and an M.F.A. from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and he currently lives and works in Beijing.


    What is the inspiration behind your work ‘Hiding In the City’? How did it first emerge?
    The fuse of the work was ignited on the November the 16th in 2005 at Suojia Village, which was the biggest living area for artists in Asia. It was forced into demolition by the government. I was there at that time, so I started the series in opposition to the government’s atrocity. I wanted to use my work to show the artists’ state in society and that their living places had not been protected.

    Why do you choose specific city surroundings and what do they mean to you as an artist?
    In Chinese society’s communistic dream, there must be majuscules (capital letters / big words) to tell and to cleanse the public’s brain. This is a way to fool the public. The people who benefited a lot were those who created these slogans. My body chose to be covered or to disappear. That’s not the relationship between the wall and me. It is rather the relationship between myself, as an individual in the society, and those slogans. In China, we get used to these slogans. We never feel surprised when we see them, so I wanted to use my work to remind people that they have to think more about the environment where we live in.

    How do you feel being a blank canvas your self?
    When we shoot the photo, I need to stand still, and my assistants will help me apply the paint on my body. They are trying their best to paint me in the same color as the background. Then we use the camera to record this process. I need strong willpower to steady myself and keep working on the performance. During the preparation of the HITC series, I enjoyed the process. In those moments, I felt like I was fighting against my nature, fighting with life, and I had to stand in stillness for my faith and ideals.

    How many hours do you need in order to perfect the photographic shot, and the painting of your body. How much help do you need?
    To finish one work, it takes 3-4 hours. All the painting and all the photographic work are finished by my assistants. My work is to just stand still there. I choose which site we should use, and which assistant helps me to do the painting, or the shot.

    What are the messages you want to convey through your art?
    It’s very easy for people to get edified by their environments, and my works want to show that kind of helpless and alienated feeling, because people cannot think independently and they cannot control their own lives. All of my works talk about this theme: How can people find their real selves?

    How do you feel being a political artist?
    Because the environment where I live in is politically charged, it is inevitably influenced by it in this sense. I agree with those who say art can have a positive impact on the development of a society. The aim of art, through its meditations and doubts, is to emphasize the situation we live in.

    How do you see China’s development today?
    The recovery of the Chinese economy won the recognition and respect of the world. But during this period, there have also been some developments, which have proved to be negative such as polarization between the rich and the poor, environmental pollution, etc.  And people worship money blindly… no matter what, as long as China is developing, and there are some occurring problems that are seen as acceptable. The doubts and meditations in our work try to make society more open and reasonable.

    Liu Bolins work will be featured as a solo exhibition at Eli Klein Fine Art Gallery in New York from 29 June to 28 August 2011.

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    References: www.yatzer.com