Liu Bolin: Almost Invisible

The photographs have been entitled “Almost Invisible” as well as “The Invisible Man in China” in various Internet sites, but despite the suggestive titles the meaning behind a series of Liu Bolin’s works of art are far from indiscernible.  The series features men, women, and children painted to blend seamlessly into the background to create the illusion of disappearing.  Bolin’s first piece in the series was in an organized group exhibition called “Demolish! Demolish! Demolish!” when Bolin and his peers found that their local arts centre was to be demolished.  Bolin created a piece that he called “Hidden-Demolition” which featured a person painted to be camouflage seamlessly with the background and photographed.  His intent was to voice the strength of the artists and how despite the demolition of their beloved studio, their, the artists’, spirits would live on. 

Bolin then followed this with a series he called “Urban Camouflage” as a reflection of China’s political and cultural climate.  In the series, Bolin reflects of how individuals have become a part of their backgrounds, a part of the city itself; molded and shaped by their experiences with each other and of the city, as the actors in the site become a part of it, its history and its meaning.  So the actors are seamlessly painted into the background, an intangible connection between country and citizen reflected through the visual impact in the photos.  His intention and social commentary is reflected well in his photographs.  Photos of barely visible people, half-vanishing into their backgrounds, initiate an idea that questions the division between man, government, and environment, as well as a reflection on representation; whether they are about fading individuals or ideals, Bolin successfully captures in his photographs that which cannot be seen. 
Anthony Bornia
Read the article Space, Scene and Actors by Sui Jianguo