Lost in Liu Bolin

From: Randian

By: Daniel Ho, Chris Moore and Gu Ling

@Liu bo lin solo “Lost in Art” at Eli Klein Fine Art, New York

Randian’s editors argue about Liu Bolin, whose photographic set pieces present the artist camouflaged with paint and makeup so that he blends chameleon-like into the background.

Chris Moore: Like Cindy Sherman, Liu Bolin’s photography largely uses rather than portrays himself but whereas Sherman’s work is about the characters caught in the strangeness of an unanchored moment, Liu’s are all about someone, oftenhimself, being subsumed into a place, whether a policeman, a political banner, a polluted river, or Mao’s portrait above the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing.
Daniel Ho: Liu is becoming a meme more than anything. I guessYes, it is rooted in the visual trickery or illusion that stretches to the origins of photography ,(if not further to trompe l’oeil and discovery of perspective itself) and highlights tingthisthe artifice. of mechanicalvision. .Maybe, at a stretch, it can be read as an analogy of and a comment on some types of capitalist production that hides its own process of production. For instance, you don’t see how iPads are made when you buy an iPad; or in branding.
Gu Ling: I think heis practice initiates from the “action” itself rather than the photography. He paints himself and merges into the environment, role-playing, one after oneanother, according to the surroundings. In some interviews, Liu said he was considered a nobodyas anobody and often ignored by others. ,Tthis became the motivationf for him to showdeal with this ignorance directly, makeing himself “invisible” and leading people to reflect whether it’s the environment wentthat is wrongat fault or is it they or themselves. In the exhibition “Lost in Art”, ,” he co-operated with the fashion masters in the same way, action or performance art rather than simply photography.
CM: What about the fashion link? I like the ‘“all-over’ ” effect of the ‘“trade-mark’ ” Gaultier Breton fisherman shirts.
DH: Really it’s just a proliferation of an art brand, which lends doubtful cultural value to brands eager to burnish their credibility in the noble aim of selling more handbags and scarves to a billion Chinese.
CM: I think it’s more complex than that. Gaultier is perhaps the most famous ‘“insider-outsider’ ” in fashion, even more so than Vivienne Westward –.sSo why Gaultier instead of frankly almost any other designer or fashion house? There’s real bite here, even if teasing – which I’m sure Gaultier appreciates – and it is fun, including with it’s very ‘“virality’.”
DH: I’m holding back my gag reflex with this whole fashion thing. I suppose tThere is arguablyere is a conceptual and subversive element to his work. Just Just because his “Hiding in the City” series has gone viral ,doesn’t mean it’s bad. It probably is designed to go viral, but it’s a bit of a one-liner, at least on first sight.
CM: What about on second sight? Surely repetition is the point here – always the same passive pose – individual ‘“passivity’ ” in Chinese art is a topic worth special attention, starting with Zeng Fanzhi.
DH: One could say tThe hidden-ness of the people speaks to a certain powerlessness, which in the West perhaps is read as the “lost individual” in the “collectivity” of the Chinese anthill. And to show powerlessness like that is at least a bit subversive.
CM: How?
DH: By drawing attention to what seems invisible.
It questions how to be human in the world where material goods are becoming more powerful. But you can see the people, so there is hope after all.
GL: USAAmerican artist Alexa Meade (http://alexameade.com/) paints on people’s bodiesy to maketurn the physical as a 2Dinto a two-dimensional image. The transition between the painted surface and theits surroundings is striking. It’s the sSame method but has exactly the opposite driveneffect. Desiree Palmen, thisa Dutch artist, also used started with the Meade approach, and which is similarly to and then coming up the same path of Liu, but not onlybut doesn’t rely on with painting though. She, also useds tailor-made costumes and even filling-dolls whichthat pretendwhich are meant to be “fake companions.”.
CM: Anything else?
DH: The “Where’s Waldo?” quality to it. The apparent merging of the human and the the backdrop under the machine vision of the camera — ¬¬– oh, wait, that’s nothing new..
The brute power of vision? The imposition of single-eyed perspective onto the real world….oh, but we do that all the time with photography.
GL: For me the method itself sounds a bit childish and funny, like Daniel mentioned, the “wWhere’s Waldo” quality; but it also carries a kind of shared -child-like ren-dreamwish to be transparent, so people can’t see usso we can’t be seen by others. ,Iit’s’s like a kind of considered as a “super power” in some point and Liu has realized it through art by his “directing”.
CM: I think it raises specific questions to do with the temporal and spatial relationship between photography and performance. Asking “‘where am I now?’ ” begs the question ‘“Why?’”

个展“迷失刘勃麟”,美国纽约Eli Klein Fine Art画廊


墨虎恺: 刘勃麟与辛迪 舍曼(Cindy Sherman)在摄影上有共通之处,即并非自拍而是描绘一些角色,这些角色常会在一个古怪的非特定的瞬间被捕捉。刘的主人公常是他自己,隐身于某个地点,从一条政治标语到一条臭水沟,从一名警察到北京天安门广场上的毛主席肖像。
何思衍: 刘勃麟成了一种“现象”(meme)。我猜其创作还是植根于摄影的源头,回到视觉诡技或幻觉上(如果不必追溯至错视画(trompe l’oeil)及对视角本身的发现那么早)并聚焦于这类诡巧上。
顾灵: 我认为他的出发点还是“行动”多过“摄影”。他涂画自己并融入周遭环境,根据环境展开一连串角色扮演。刘勃麟在接受采访时提及他曾被旁人轻视与忽略的时期,而他想要直接应对这种“忽视”的念头恰是创作的动因:让自己彻底“不可见”,由此引发关于这种“忽视”的成因究竟是环境本身还是被忽视者自己“不争气”的思考。在此次展览“迷失艺术”中,他与一些时尚品牌大师合作的方式也是一样,重在行动或表演而非仅是照片。
CM: 那何不来谈谈与时尚的联系?我喜欢Gaultier Breton“商标般”的渔人T
DH: 但这不过是艺术品牌的自我增值罢了,将可疑的文化价值出借给品牌,而后者则迫不及待地想要磨亮招牌招揽中国的亿万富翁来多买些包。
CM: 我觉得没那么简单。Gaultier或许是时尚业最厉害的跨界高手了,甚至比Vivienne Westward还厉害。所以不夸张地说,为什么这次偏偏是Gaultier而非其他任何一家设计师或时尚品牌?说明这儿真有甜头,即便带有挑逗的意味——我肯定Gaultier会欣赏这点——加上也的确有趣,包括它快速传播的“病毒性”。
DH: 关于时尚业界的讨论我想就此打住。而刘勃麟的作品确实具有某种颠覆性的品质。仅凭其“城市迷彩”系列快速走红并不意味着是件坏事。说不定它就故意要这种效果。不过头一眼看上去,还是感觉有点单一(one-liner)。
CM: 那看了第二眼呢?重复肯定是讨论到这儿的关键——永远是那个一动不动的站立姿势——中国艺术界中个体的“被动”是值得注意的议题,打从曾梵志就开始了。
DH: 可以说这种把人藏起来表现了某种无力感,这在西方或许可以被解读为:在中国大“集体”中的“迷失个体”。而去展示这种无力感本身就带有颠覆性。
CM: 怎么说?
DH: 把关注引向不可见。
GL: 美国艺术家Alexa Meade也画在人体上,不过她将人体画成了平面图像。涂绘过的人体表面与其周遭环境的转换犹如梦境。她同样采用人体涂画,但效果截然相反。而荷兰艺术家Desiree Palmen则两者兼而有之,但她不仅通过绘画、还有定制服装与道具来达成类似刘勃麟的作品效果。
CM: 还有什么?
DH: 还有点“瓦尔多在哪儿”(Where’s Waldo?,一个美国知名的在线游戏,玩家须在茫茫动画人海中找到主人公“瓦尔多”)的感觉。在摄像机的机械镜头下显而易见的人与景的融合——哦,等等,这没什么新鲜的。
GL: 我觉得这种办法多少冒着点孩子气,就像思衍说的“瓦尔多在哪儿”,但也好像是儿时的天真想法:变得透明是一种超能力,别人就无法看见我们。而刘用其艺术创作在某种程度上将之实现了。
CM: 我认为他也抛出了一个具体的问题,即摄影与表演之间的时空关系。提问:现在我在哪儿?为什么?

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