Invisible Body and the Predicaments of Existence in an Urbanizing China

Meiqin Wang


This article contextualises the art practice of Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin and examines ways in which his artworks illuminate the sociopolitical conditions that regulate the everyday reality of underprivileged social groups amid China’s spectacular urban transformation in the 2000s. The tension between individual existence and the force of urbanization underlays Liu’s most important work, entitled Hiding in the City. This performance photographic series, in which Liu covered his body thoroughly with paint so that he “disappeared” into the background, was initiated as a response towards the demolition of an artist village in Beijing where the artist resided and worked. The series has since been developed into an ambitious and years-long project in which the artist surveys the disparate urban living environment of the city, bringing to the surface dominant forces that render the existence of the individuals “invisible”.

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