All chameleon species are able to change their skin colour. Rattlesnake can bury most of the body in sand soil. […]Human beings are not animals. Because they do not know how to protect themselves.
– Liu Bolin.
If you heard someone say, “I don’t really like selling what I do” or “I don’t like changing what I do for money”, we sincerely hope you don’t call them stupid. In fact, we’ve had this problem with money and what we love doing clashing again and again. Our parents always sweetly persuade us, “Well, your blog’s been up for long. You’ve been doing so much otherwise. From what we see on the internet, you must be minting a fortune by now.” It takes two gulps of vodka before we sit down quietly and explain to them that we’re not looking for money.
We’ve done our share of being human resource in desk jobs to pay the rent and the million bills that come with living in an upcoming city. Each day, we sit hoping that someone would just find this awesome job with wonderful people and maybe become rich enough to fund us all. Our merged bank accounts, our crowded houses, our shared food, and everyone’s collection of coins seem like a lost cause to many. So, when we came across Liu Bolin’s life and works, we had this great grin on our faces, maybe that common human folly (like the Tagore put it) of hope. Luckily, many artists out there have been through this struggle and actually managed to do something.
After school, just like some of us, Bolin did not find any suitable work. What began as a desperate search for acceptance turned into a revolt against the system. He said in Whitehot Magazine:
There are two main influences. The first is the environment, the experience of living. That’s my main influence. The second influence would be the demolishment of Suojiacun Village, the art village where I lived with my friends. That was my first time to be personally affected in a major way by the government’s decisions. They destroyed my studio and made me homeless! After all that I became very concerned with the state of China. My work is really an expression of my concern.
There’s a lot of loneliness in art (whether painting, performance or anything), especially when you’re so against being commercial and up on gallery walls.
Liu Bolin’s Hiding in the City, is how he interpreted this invisibility of the (artistic) individual in the society. He said in Mail Online:
‘The situation for artists in China is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist’s studio is in fact my direct inspiration of this series of photographs, Hiding In The City… My job is to choose a good background where I want to be “disappeared”, and then stand there unmoved until a design has been painted on me… I am standing, but there is a silent protest, the protest against the environment for the survival, the protest against the state.”
images from ArtNet Gallery and Boxart Gallery