Friday, April 13, 2012


A while back I found this image on tumblr. I made a normal post along with several, found, reblogged images and only tonight have I found where, who, and what this photo is about. His name is Liu Bolin and through the slathered red, white, and blue paint he is a Chinese artist known in China as simply "The Invisible Man". He is not new to the art world at all but for a regular internet lurker like me who is unaware of the goings on of said art world, the only real times I discover artists are either accidentally or in a museum. I was watching a French TV program in my hotel room when they featured an interview with him.

This image is his first work where he is featured, masked, in his surrounding environment. In this particular scene, his artist workshop located in a well known artist village has just been demolished by the Chinese government. In an interview he says:

"I witnessed our dwellings being demolished and our art destroyed," he said. "At that moment, my anger finally burst out, along with my inspiration."

Liu stood under the burning sunlight for six hours and painted his body and blended himself against a wall of a demolished building, where the local government wrote a propaganda slogan on it - "unify the minds, propagandize and educate".

"Individual rights often disappear amid the roaring sound of the government's will," he said."

Liu's work reflects a constant societal questioning of China's rapid development. There is no question that his work is fundamentally political. His popularity in the art world has made him one of China's more recognizable artists abroad.
His surrealistic approach to critiquing modern society, whether in New York or Beijing, definitely leaves people pondering. I think his work definitely carries a much more profound meaning now that I know a lot more about him.

If you look into some interviews with him, he has a lot of insightful opinions about his feelings towards modern Chinese society and it's relentless economic growth, how it is affecting ordinary Chinese people, and how he views himself and others within this predetermined system.

While searching for more information on Liu Bolin, I happened to find an article featured recently on Harper Bazaar online, where he collaborated with iconic designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier ( pictured below ), Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, and Angela Missoni from Missoni to name a few. The idea was that the designers were painted into their iconic prints or collections and they just talked about how they individually "get lost in their work." I hope he got paid a lot of money for it. Any time you take politically based art work and apply it to people that sell luxury goods or goods at all, I just see it as a weird shell of commercialism, not necessarily thought provoking or remotely avant garde. Hardly genuine, just repackaged altogether. It just looks like new age pretension. What would have been better is if Liu Bolin painted name brand obssessed zombies who can't afford their shit but still buy it into each photo. Just saying.


Finlandia aerial shot. Looks kind of 3D. I think my camera is slowing dying or my lens is developing a cataract.

Having visited Barcelona during it's city wide/ nation wide strike, it's quite evident that Spain is not the only country in the Eurozone to be struggling with unemployment/labor reform etc. Although despite this bleek reality, Finland and Denmark top the polls as the happier places to be.

Landed in Finland and was expecting an extension of Scandinavian vibes; rustic and old world charm I guess. Was surprised to be greeted by wide streets of modern looking apartment housing which led into a city of mostly generic city buildings, peppered with a small number of historic districts/monuments.

Only spent two full days here. One of those days was Easter while the other one was the Monday holiday after Easter where virtually everything is closed. Literally- everything. After walking around downtown I found that a Manhattan steak house was open and as well as a casual Finnish diner. I ended up eating 4 out of 6 meals at said diner, thankfully it was super good and chill vibes. Pictured here; not the diner but a random store front. I should also say that while looking for postcards in Helsinki I found a postcard of three guys fishing a non descript lake with the word Helsinki written in red. Kind of tells you the city is short on glamourous postcard imagery.

Went to this restaurant "Aino" which was super delicious. Got the celery soup which turned out to be creamy, amazing Finnish goodness. Have to admit- celery soup does not sound appetizing at first but I'm a believer now. I've been documenting food a little more recently since my friend Hope mentioned to me that I should. I don't really know how to speak in tongues about food like I'm a culinary expert but I know how to eat it.

Grilled white fish over some onions and a potato cake. That's what I'm talking about.

Seriously? Rich chocolate mousse with blueberry ice cream. Best pre fixe meal I had in Europe for sure. Done deal.


I'd like to check this book out if the bookstore wasn't closed.

Suspended record. Chained to the sky.

Saw kids skating around. Less casual longboarders than Barcelona. This kid is ready to mongo push with baby snow boots on.

If you need a word processor tune up I know a place in Helsinki..

Lurking on peoples windows.

At that diner place I was talking about earlier ( forgot the name; damn ) enjoyed what was advertised as "Finnish comfort food". This includes potatoes, bacon hash browns, sausage, and sour pickle slices. Fatty.

My co worker had carbonara with smoked reindeer meat. Yes reindeer meat. Reindeer is big in Finland. Apparently if you like the gamey taste of lamb, you will love reindeer. Needless to say I hate lamb.

Skate plaza

Thought about skating but I was working. Plus, I felt kind of awkward imagining myself skating with literally only 12-15 year olds. Not that I should feel weird, but some feelings can't be helped.

The other preferred city hobby seemed to be parkouring. Tightline walking on round rails don't look fun to me at all.

I found somebody a triple set. This thing was basically a wall.

A creamy yogurt sauce infused lemon chicken dish that was delicious. Ate this twice.

Finnish beer. The tap was embedded in ice. So cool. No pun intended.

Was hanging out with one of the servers after work and grabbed some beer. They ran out of the Sandels so the bartender suggested I get this beer: Kukko. A local pointed out to me that the way you say this word in Swedish or Finnish sounds like cock so the act of putting this beer to your lips is basically like sucking cock. He laughed and I laughed. International moments.

Watching, waiting, at the thrift store in some racks. I found that many of the vintage stores in the city are not as good. The thrift stores where things are actually cheaper and operated by younger individuals are actually more worth the browse. I found some pretty ill Megadeth and Nirvana scarf weight, oversized banners for around 2 euros each.

Did not buy this spice girls t shirt. But this vibe is pretty Helsinki'ish.

Or wait, maybe this one?

Having spoken to a local the night prior enlightened me to a couple of different things about Helsinki/Finland in general. For one thing, you don't want to call or even reference Finnish people or culture as mildly Russian. During WWII the Russians bombed Helsinki before trying to bomb Sweden. So calling somebody Finnish Russian is like calling a Chinese person Japanese I guess. This simple fact also explains the architectural aesthetic of the city. In places like Paris where living history through building structures and monuments have been virtually untouched by world war compared to places like Helsinki,it's a humbling experience to see the different realities. I also found this to be true in Berlin, which I didn't realize while I was visiting that it was the capital of Nazi Germany at one point. The second thing I found out was that Finland is a relatively new country, having only established it's independence from the Russian Empire around 1917. Before it was part of the Russian empire it was part of Sweden, and even today if you are a Fin who speaks Swedish there is apparently some weird local racism about that. The guy I was talked to who's parents are Swedish said he used to get beat up in school for knowing how to speak Swedish. So weird- but not really cause it's a completely different country I have no clue about.

The Finnish language is incredibly hard for me to even try to pronounce. Street signs were nightmarishly long and even the train stops were super hard to say. Might as well have been written in Thai.

International language for #1 and #2.

Never taken this route before. Next up, three week China work trip.

Did not see the following people in Helsinki but apparently people in Helsinki dress like this according to Hel-looks. Would have been stoked to see these people wandering about. Especially the second guy down who describes his style as “ Ubiquitous, transcendental and intergalactic.”

Seems only fitting that I found a Mars Attack clip accompanied by a Megadeth ballad to end this post. And yes, this dude's style reminds me of the martians in Mars Attacks. Maybe this guy is secretly an alien and yodeling will make his brains explode under his Fez hat.

Winter camo- pretty much the way to go.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hooray for the internet! Hooray for little kids! So inspiring. And Michele Gondry had nothing to do with it!