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.
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。
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
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”。
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。
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。