Incredible Photos of the Artist Who Makes Himself Invisible
Shut down by the Chinese government, Liu Bolin has mastered the art of disappearing
- By Aviva Shen
- Smithsonian magazine, September 2012
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)
Liu Bolin remembers what it feels like to truly be invisible. In 2005, the Chinese government shut down Beijing’s thriving art village, Suo Jia Cun, demolishing some 100 studios, including Liu’s. He protested the state’s treatment of artists with a photographic series, Hiding in the City. “I was a meaningless person, according to society,” Liu says. “Those years made me feel like people can exist or completely disappear.”
Liu disappears. He stands still for hours as an assistant paints him to match his surroundings. Liu hopes his works—like the one above, where he blends into propaganda art (look for his shoes under the white-jacketed soldier)—will compel people to ponder the often contentious relationship between the individual and society.