Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin silently comments on modern sociopolitical conditions by disappearing into his art.

Why you should listen

Artist Liu Bolin began his "Hiding in the City" series in 2005, after Chinese police destroyed Suo Jia Cun, the Beijing artists' village in which he'd been working, because the government did not want artists working and living together. With the help of assistants, he painstakingly painted his clothes, face, and hair to blend into the background of a demolished studio.

Since then, the so-called "Invisible Man" has photographed himself fading into a variety of backgrounds all over Beijing. Spot him embedded in a Cultural Revolution slogan painted on a wall, or spy him within tiers of supermarket shelves stocked with soft drinks. Just as with Bolin himself, the contradictions and confusing narratives of China's post-Cultural Revolution society are often hiding in plain sight.

What others say

“Bolin's work is part of a growing movement of conceptual art from China, much of which reflects social and economic change.” — The Independent, 1/31/11

Liu Bolin’s TED talk

Liu Bolin on the TED Blog
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JR and Liu Bolin join forces to make the TED dream team

June 26, 2013

The image above is classic Liu Bolin — the artist painted exactingly to blend in with the scene behind him. (Watch his talk from TED2013, “The invisible man.”) But if you look closely, you will see that the man in the picture is not actually Bolin—the tell-tale Ray-Bans reveal that this is JR, the artist […]

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10 stunning images from Liu Bolin, the disappearing man

May 15, 2013

Liu Bolin’s images invite a game akin to Where’s Waldo?. In some of the Chinese artist’s incredible photos, it’s clear where he is standing; in others, like the one above, it’s much harder to spot the outline of his body at all. It’s for this that Bolin has been called “The Invisible Man.” In today’s […]

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Timelapse of a disappearance: Talking with Liu Bolin

March 2, 2013

On Thursday at TED2013, Chinese artist Liu Bolin talked about his remarkable photographic installations, in which he paints himself (and sometimes other people) with perfect camouflage to disappear into a busy background. His talk closed with a photo of Liu in the theater at Long Beach, disappearing himself into the stage with paint and pattern […]

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