Liu Bolin is a Chinese artist who has become internationally known for his “Hiding” series of photographs, in which Bolin’s body and face are painted by assistants to blend in to his surroundings, rendering him almost invisible. Over the past six years, Bolin has traveled the world to create new iterations of these images, often responding to local visual contexts and global issues of commerce and cultural production.
Art Hacker, Bolin’s current exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery (New York), marks the artist’s shift from urban to virtual contexts, where he continues to engage the politics of disappearance. Appropriating a masterpiece from the Western canon, Bolin has created his own embodied version of the Mona Lisa, now made up of more than forty painted people, including Bolin himself. Seeding the image into websites targeted using Google and Baidu image search — including our own former website, typology.ca — Bolin claims space previously held by a Renaissance master.
“Touching upon the fact that the work was stolen from the Louvre more than 100 years ago, Liu Bolin aims to reenact the ‘disappearing and reappearing’ of the work through techniques behind the network. Employing physical and hyperlinked images… the artist foregrounds the man-made, the fabricated, and the deceptive, through which he probes into the mass production and circulation of information, and also questions where the power lies in today’s ubiquitous networking” (from Klein Sun’s Liu Bolin exhibition page).
In addition to the Mona Lisa and other artworks, a series of neon sculptures depicting the urls of some of the “hacked” websites is on display, including our personal favourite, http://typology.ca/one-from-the-road-mona-lisa-overdrive/ (click image to enlarge). Art Hacker is on view at Klein Sun through December 23, 2016. More information on Bolin and many other fantastic Chinese artists can be found on the gallery’s website.