WEST HARTFORD – The art gallery at the University of St. Joseph (USJ) is presenting “In Plain Sight: Photographs by Liu Bolin” through Aug. 31. The gallery is located in the Bruyette Athenaeum on the university’s main campus at 1678 Asylum Ave.
Contemporary Chinese artist Liu Bolin has become known worldwide for photographs in which he camouflages himself to disappear into the background. Often called the “Invisible Man,” he exposes tensions between society’s rapidly changing environment and the individual.
Liu Bolin began his photographic series “Hiding in the City” in 2005 after the Chinese government razed his Beijing studio in the urban renovations undertaken in advance of the Beijing Olympics. Painting himself to disappear into the background of his demolished studio, he protested the treatment of artists by the state, which did not consult them or consider their needs.
Noting that the backgrounds he chooses show the many social problems that have emerged in the course of China’s modern development, he says, “From my perspective, the meaning of human beings has been constantly annihilated in modern society. While the living environment is improving, people are effacing themselves; what a great contradiction!”
The execution of these photographs is painstaking and requires a team of collaborators. After selecting a location having a strong symbolic relationship to politics, culture or the environment, Liu chooses where he will stand. With the assistance of his collaborators, he carefully paints himself to blend into the background, sometimes standing in one spot for many hours before his team is ready to take the final photograph. With each new work he asks himself, “Why would making myself invisible here cause people to think?”
The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Monday.
Admission is free. For more information, visit www.usj.edu/artgalleryry.