The Not So Invisible Man

A photo feature in Smithsonian magazine this month brings us back to the work of Liu Bolin, busy making himself an “invisible” citizen of the world since the Chinese government shut down the studio complex that he was working out of in in 2005. He found a new home at the 798 Art District, or Dashanzi Art Zone, that Eric visited back in 2008 and wrote about in Giant Robot. There his work thrived and helped him land a New York gallery.

Liu’s process is laborious, impressive and symbolic. With the help of commercial representation his work has also appeared in fashion magazines to have his concept used for portraits of major fashion designers. It’s great to revisit his images though. Even when set in new a cultural landscape (New York), it still holds the power to make the viewer ponder their place in the world and whether or not they stand out.

798 Art District  is still active, and is now a tourist destination you can read about in Lonely Planet. My friend Richard popped in for a visit this summer and it looks as vibrant as it did two years ago, and it’s still a great place to discover new work and to be inspired. If you’re in Beijing, go visit and keep your eye out for the next big thing – s/he may be painted in urban camouflage.

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