Liu Bolin’s take on the relationship between the individual and the dynamics of government is a varying influence between each other and subject to today’s reality. Interviewing Mr Bolin has a revealed a man who provokes in every sense and gives rise to self-determination for all.
Mr Bolin, how did your medium of art evolve?
In terms of artistic expression, I first moved from sculpture to the body, then I moved to the period of photography. However, what is at stake is how meanings that art provokes. I experienced form, the process from spirit to heart and later the course and experience of the soul.
Your medium of art transcends history and subjects. Can you explain?
Art itself creates change in a society and it goes beyond that, it changes in form and it shapes a progressive process. However, people in each period of time expresses the freedom of the soul and an impression through form with the skills they know best from their own surroundings and this never changes in art. That is why in my works I am trying to use as much material from my surroundings in order to express the complexity that people encounter today.
You are the main subject of your works. Why?
My art exhibits people’s confusion that is based on the loss of body and conflicting relationships of human civilization. In my works it is not only me, for in the real world everyone will encounter confusion like me; and this is a method to protect a certain distance from my body in my work, a method of observation and executing a thought.
How do you go about preparing for each work?
When I am preparing my works first of all I think of the background and I choose my position in this background, later I stand still and let my assistants help me put a block behind the color that is behind the body. From a certain distance, I am invisible.
Why are you so interested by the inequality and imbalance caused by the process of human development? Is there a personal influence here by way of your upbringing?
From an artist’s point of view you can influence the individual’s concept, form and own personal experiences. I am attracted to this kind of works because for a long time I had a very difficult work life, I felt myself being too much for society. Through these experiences I feel that social status is under an immense pressure, facing life and death individually. I had to face it so I thought about the negative influences on society and these kind of things are not only personal to me. I form my own life and I am guided my own personal experiences.
For me the expansion of art is the expansion of the nuclear spirit and thought of self.
In your Hacker series you state that, “I am questioning the relationship between a country and its people, the domination of a government’s political power, as well as the rights to the photos themselves.” Do you consider that the “Big Brother” philosophy mainly has a negative impact on human development?
In Hacker series I questioned the relationships between the government and the theory of how they try to control individual relations and the war between the images in the virtual world. I questioned the relations of this by installing images to win, to hide and to put back to society. I think this is the most interesting method in how to do this. I absolutely do not put it against the real world. Because I think the development of the internet allows us to enter a new period of time and that the network has immeasurably developed into the future progress of humankind. Now we are just standing on the edge, we haven’t realized the potentials and dangers of it yet.
What do you think of facebook and instagram in relation to human development and art? Do these two mediums pave the way for self-determination?
These two softwares can provide humans an information exchange in an instant. They built the virtual world so that the world turns into a smaller media outlet, at the same time people were given a space that is like a dream. The public’s desire can be inspirational and right now we cannot say if this is good or bad. I consider culture and art as inspiration, but the online network represents the virtual world and at the same time encourages people to do negative things.
Some artists might say that art can stand on it’s own and doesn’t need an audience. Is your work directed at the public or more so towards government institutions?
If we look from the viewpoint of artistic holism and progress, art is not absolute. It cannot be said that art does not need an audience, at the same time we also cannot say art is only for itself. For me the expansion of art is the expansion of the nuclear spirit and thought of self. If we think of it on this level, we do not care about the artist or the need for an audience inside the individual. This is not the most important thing; the most important thing is that the artwork is a good and that it can spread and influence.
Your work has touched upon the media. How do you view the media in the way we receive news today?
To speak realistically, the purpose of media propaganda is the continuity of an attitude. As if I am presenting my views on an incident, as if the human behaviour is known within. It is difficult to persuade reality, just like media influencing people’s positions and perspectives.
What is your relationship to commercial work?
As an artist in my works, I used to think only about my ideologies, the human spirit and its function or affects through the information exchange and the communication processes. I can say that my main focus here is my thoughts transforming into extensions.
For commerce, it is the business of art dealers, they set a price in order to sell your artwork as a commodity whilst putting it on display. This is not the artist’s business. I only express my thoughts in order to produce artwork. This is not a subject that I have to deal with as an artist.
How do you view your own public persona among Chinese perceptions?
Are you an outsider? In China I am definitely not an outsider. My roots and the starting point of my work are Chinese. Most of my early works are in China. I also worked and produced in many other countries. But what I went through in my country will ensure more a worldwide reflection. The location is not important now that all information is generated at the same time.
Your work is political and some in the art s
phere may be afraid to approach this subject. What do you say to this?
My work is about the limitations born from our misery and human desire. I do not consider my work as a piece of political or illegal art. I think about the ability of my works carrying themselves along with its thoughts to a better position. This might mean that I can have individual thoughts, whilst other artists may focus on skills or political works. My experiences influence my thoughts through decision-making, I have works that are seen in light of this.
When you are not working on new projects, what are you doing? Are you still an active protester?
I continue my photography and sculptures. A lot of people are interested in my art and this is an important method for the works to be known more whilst been read more intelligently by the audience. In the meantime, I have a lot of sculptures. I consider my works as protest against biased statements. I focus more on the negative thoughts of humanity and even humanity trying to save its destiny. This is my way of work.