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Liu Bolin, the chameleon artist who disappeared for the oceans

Surfrider Foundation Europe received at its Biarritz premises the artist Liu Bolin on Sunday June 11th and Monday June 12th for a very unique performance. Activist for the oceans and the environment, the Chinese artist disappeared in live streaming over a waste wall carried out with the participation of pupils of a school and high school of Biarritz. 

  • Surfrider: Liu Bolin, coul you introduce yourself in few words?

    Liu Bolin: I am a simple persdon and sensitive to the environment. I have the chance to make a living out of my art. I try to use my skills and my thinking to perform my artistic ideals. For now, I consider myself happy and fortunate to be an artist in China.

  •  Why did you decide to diseapear for the oceans in the premises of Surfrider Fondation Europe ?

    It has been 12 years I worked on the photographic serie « Hiding the city ». In this serie, I use two elements: my body and a decor. I get my inspiration from the contradiction of today’s society and the problems we face to disappear in a given context. And I use my work for questioning each other. That’s why with the gallery Paris-Beijing, we decided to organize this performance with Surfrider. The pollution of the oceans does not only concern France, it’s a worldwide issue. I choose the marine waste as a backdrop to raise the question of consumerism and of the consequences of our everyday choices. It’s a huge chance to work with children what is more a necessity. It makes my works more powerful. I believe in a creative dialog with children, I like to hear their ideas and make them participate to the creative process.

  •  How did you choose to experiment the art of camouflage?

    When my studio was demolished in 2005, I went through tough times. My body remained my only support. It seemed that my most logical course was to use it for hiding myself to raise awareness the general public on the artists’ difficult living conditions around the world. It has been 12 years I work on “Hiding in the City” and deepen the reflection of the development of our civilisation and societies.

  • What is the craziest place where you have disappeared?

    I have experimented one of my craziest work one month ago into the Icelandic glacier. Indeed, to focus on the climate change, I took a picture of a drifting iceberg and I camouflaged myself. The environment was harsh and the weather conditions very bad but after all, I insisted to achieve my performance!

  • Which environmental message would you like to spread to future generations?

    We ask too much to the nature and environment. Our desires dictate too often our behaviours. But we will soon realize how little we are in front of the huge issues that lie ahead. That seems to me that my works in this light contribute to the reflexion for the future generations. How harmonize the relationship between human and its environment? It’s possible to question and find concrete answers through art.

An artistic performance broadcasted in live streaming 

Sunday June 11th, Liu Bolin made himself disappear in the premises of Surfrider Foundation Europe. A non-public performance but broadcasted in live streaming and followed by 10 000 person on Facebook and almost 5000 on YouTube. Performed with the partnership of scholars of Biarritz and the Art Campus Surfrider facility, this happening allows tens of thousand people to be sensitive to marine waste.

To make link between art and pedagogy, Surfrider’s Art Campus frequently organizes projects that bring together these two  audiences. During the school year, CE1-CE2 class from the Pyrenees school and the pupils of the fifth year of the high school Villa Fal Biarritz integrated the marine litter concern in the school program. It’s together that they realised the decor that enable Liu Bolin to make himslef disappear. They also provided in the different schools of the city a bottle at sea, encouraging pupils, teachers and educational structures to organize waste collection within the framework of the Ocean Initiatives.

Liu Bolin, the “chameleon artist” who commits itself for the oceans

Called the “Invisible man” or “chameleon human”, Liu Bolin is an artist with a deep environmental commitment. Since the beginning of his career, ecology is one of the central subjects of his artwork. After braving the polluted waters of one of the most industrialized region of his country or standing in front of an artificial forest to restrain the progress of the Gobi Desert in northern China, the artist collaborates this time with Surfrider to raise awareness on the problem of aquatic waste. A performance that takes shape in an upcoming exhibition at the Center Georges Pompidou, where the artist’s works will be presented in the Children’s Gallery in September as part of the 40th anniversary of the museum, under the direction of Stéphane Villard and Gaëlle Gabillet.

WATCH THE Streaming 

Translation : Mélanie Gaillard