Zachary Bako: Liu Bolin and JR


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JR shoots Liu Bolin © Zachary Bako

aCurator-featured artist Zachary Bako has been working with artist Liu Bolin in China for some time now. Recently they were in New York, with Bako documenting a collaboration between Bolin and French artist JR.

"Liu Bolin's passion for his artwork was clear from the start. The more I worked with Liu, the more interested I got in capturing his emotion, and that of those around him, as he works. When we collaborate, I find myself peeling the camera away from my face, almost like I need to take a minute now and then just to bear witness to the intensity of the atmosphere around me. In particular, when we were in his hometown of Binzhou in Shandong Province, China, last September creating two works."

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"Liu Bolin and JR have known each other for 4 or 5 years ago. They first met in Arles, France. During Liu Bolin's first performance for Hiding in New York in 2011 (at that time, in front of the Kenny Scharf mural on Houston and Bowery) JR stopped by to give his regards. Almost a year later the two would collaborate on a piece."

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"First, JR photographed Liu Bolin's face (the frame denotes his left eye partially visible through the fingers of his left hand) (Liu Bolin is predominately left-handed when creating sculptures and painting) Then JR and his assistants pasted the mural onto his studio door.  Once the pasting was completed, we waited for the correct light and Liu Bolin and his assistants then painted JR into his own image. Perched on scaffolding across the street, (there was a SUV parked from the correct POV, so we elevated camera to combat this) Liu Bolin directed his assistants with a laser pointer to perfect every last detail. The final product, a photograph."

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"Frankly, Liu Bolin and JR respect each other's work; even so much that JR has collected one of Liu Bolin's pieces. I think that it is fantastic that a cultural bridge is connected with these two artists. They are no doubt, two very important artists of our time; both having very distinct messages within their work. I consider their collaboration a homage to one another." - Zachary Bako.

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All images + video © Zachary Bako


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