Friday, October 2, 2009

Urban Camouflage

As China rapidly enters a new era of pseudo-capitalism, the idea of "fitting in" is no longer the result of communist dictatorship, but rather takes from the western philosophy of consumer culture. A quickly growing middle class and access to an ever-expanding array of goods has allowed much of the urban population to take part in mass consumerism backed by media and advertising. In the series "Camouflage", Chinese artist Liu Bolin has cued in on this new role of the people and poses them within the landscape painted to match their background. The figures, stationed in the foreground, disappear into their environment. In a sense, the human subjects within the work, and thus their individuality, are reevaluated at the level of society as a whole, and interpreted as a product of their environment.
Interestingly enough, the artists own commentary is relating the human being to animals and their need for camouflage in nature to remain safe. Bolin comments that human beings are not animals because they have no way of protecting themselves, and yet they are still incapable of removing themselves from this environment by choice. Bolin:
"Now, in the real material world, the world views of different people’s are also different. Each person chooses his/her own way in the process of contacting outside world. I choose to merge myself into the environment. Saying that I am disappeared in the environment, it would be better to say that the environment has licked me up and I can not choose active and passive relationship. In the environment of emphasizing cultural heritage, concealment is actually no place to hide."
The emergence of this new consumer culture is a dramatic shift in idealogies for one of the worlds strongest communist heritages where, ironically, the image of Chairman Mao is one of the most popular images seen on T-shirts for sale.

Liu Bolin at the Galerie Bertin-Toublanc. Seen on v1kram's posterous.

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