LIU BOLIN

TED WEEKENDS
His work illustrates that amid the accelerating progress of society, our living environment has significantly improved, while humans are becoming increasing lost about the meaning and value of self -- sometimes even allowing the self to disintegrate. The artist's Chinese army training uniform and disappearance into the background are deliberate and metaphoric gestures of protest against this loss.
TED WEEKENDS
There is more, however, to Bolin's technique than simple pleasures--there is the scene finding and set up, the painting, the social commentary, and finally the snap of the camera. It is a genre-bending combination of street theatre, conceptual art, and photography rolled into one.
TED WEEKENDS
As Liu remarks, "any culture has its irreconcilable contradictions." Often we are just too wrapped up in our own societies to see them. Sometimes it takes fading into the background as a quiet observer to bring these contradictions into sharp focus.
TED WEEKENDS
To embark upon a series of stealth configurations I expect more than a sleight of hand to invoke some intrigue or unrest. "My intention was not to disappear in the environment but (to) let the environment take possession of me", Bolin says. Once possessed, now what? How do you roil the many to action? Does such work bring out the tumbrels or will it present a shrug instead, leaving everyone to return to their meager comforts?
TED WEEKENDS
True, I could not access Google and my Gmail or Facebook, but I was also introduced to an underground rock scene, to journalism students who asked thoughtful questions and who were inspired into the profession to tell the truth, and met young intellectuals and artists who like Liu find ways to openly express themselves within the boundaries of society and reality.
TED WEEKENDS
Today, a growing number of Chinese artists are sharing their vision of a free China with the public, and there is little that the government can do to stop them. Every now and then, the authorities will put someone in jail - in 2011, they detained Ai Weiwei for 81 days - but they cannot imprison his art, which lives in a realm beyond the reach of violence. They may turn off the lights, but they cannot force the prisoner to sleep.