Liu Bolin

Inspired by Hack’s blending of people into intricate Mandala’s I decided to backtrack a bit to a personal favorite.  The Chinese government hates him, the world loves him, in his 2008 collection of photographs aptly titled, “Camouflage,” Liu Bolin paints himself against backgrounds throughout China as a message reflecting the identity of the average Chinese citizen.

Raised in Shandong, China, one of the richest provinces in the peoples republic, Bolin has seen first hand what the life of the average toiler in a factory amounts to.  His tongue in cheek response to the oppression and cog in the machine mentality of his people has earned him a permanent stay on the blacklist of the Chinese government.  His protests against the persecution of artists led to his studio being shut down in 2005 by the authorities who deem him a threat to national security.

Blending himself against backdrops of destruction, power, and the bleak brick and cement of China, his photographs speak of a machine bent on keeping the personal identities and thoughts of the people under its thumb from surfacing.  There aren’t any passerbys in his photos, they are vacant of people (except for the first series in the post titled “prisoner” featuring him held and then blinded by a guard), yet you search for people in each picture, you search for him.  Bolin wants you to look; China is well known for its working conditions and factories, we all know the stories yet we do little to comprehend or change any of these.  Bolin’s photos speak of a china which is hidden in plain site, commonly known yet not seen.

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