Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
June 2, 2018
Liu is known for creating images in which he or his subjects are painted to blend perfectly into the background. Performative in nature, his work explores the social and political effects of modern changes in China.
Ruinart winemakers draw the best from nature without causing harm.Liu Bolin
The artist visited Maison Ruinart in Reims, where he spent 10 days creating a series of photographs that captured the human work and passion behind each bottle of champagne. “When I began my research into Ruinart, I learned about the unique know-how of the world’s oldest champagne house and the exceptional beauty of the historic place,” the artist said. “I was impressed by the team’s expertise and how the surrounding natural resources are put to use in the production of champagne. From the vineyards to the chalk cellars, Ruinart winemakers draw the best from nature without causing harm. I wanted to use this series to showcase their work.”
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about your first impressions when visiting the vineyards and caves of Ruinart in Reims?
LIU BOLIN: The colors were stunning, especially the orange color inside the cellars that is very special. It’s very different from usual colors.
WW: You stayed in Reims and created eight images over 10 days. How did you choose the locations for each image? What drew you to them?
LB: I tried to follow and record the process of champagne-making from the grapes to the bottles so I chose locations accordingly.
WW: Why did you want to show the invisible imprint of human labor? Is that a thread we can trace throughout your work?
LB: I invited workers of the champagne production, some of them have over 20 years of experience. I wanted to show the life, the people, and the soul. The golden thread of my work revolves around the human body, and more especially the skin as a canvas, as a media.
WW: You said you were impressed by Ruinart’s ability to draw best from nature without causing harm. Why did you want to highlight that?
LB: Man is part of the nature but now it is the era of the smartphone and man seems to be moving away from nature. So with this series at Ruinart I try to give evidence of this essential link between man and nature and to create a positive story around it.
I try to give evidence of this essential link between man and nature and to create a positive story around it.Liu Bolin
WHITEWALL: Why did you want to interact with Alphonse Mucha’s art nouveau work—Maison Ruinart’s first artist collaboration? What was that dialogue like for you across time?
LIU BOLIN: As an artist I put my main focus on the reality but I also find that another important part of my role is to inherit the spirit of the artists of the past. Mucha’s painting transfers me his energy and it develops my own creative process.
WW: You connected with an engraving that reads “Classe 1898” you found in one of the caves. How so?
LB: It was important for me to connect with the history and the reality of the production. I chose the reference to 1898 because it is the oldest date I found written on the chalk walls of the cellars. I try to evoke the life of the humans through this mention of time. It’s like a testimony of their existence on the walls.
My role is to inherit the spirit of the artists of the past.Liu Bolin
WW: Why do you like to put yourself into the work?
LB: My pictures from 2005 until now include with my body. My body does not represent just myself but all humanity. I take it as a canvas for my expression.
WW: Who are the other models you included in this project?
LB: Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s Master Cellar impressed me a lot with his expertise on wine and his attention to nature, I chose to be represented on 2 pictures with him, the one in the vineyeard just before the harvest and in the hypnotic one called Lost in Blancs de Blancs.
Pablo, pictured in Hiding in the Gyropalettes, is in charge of riddling. He astounded me with his know-how, serenity and patience. He is able to “read the wine”, so that the gyropalette machines can be programmed properly, and becomes an extension of his hand.
Patricia, Helena and Olivier are taking the pose with me on the disgorgement line photograph. I’ve always been fascinated by people who produce. To my mind, they are the ones who make the world go around. In 2006, I created an image with Chinese workers, which was a memorable experience. I found the same relationship here. Taking a photograph with four models is never easy, but they remained completely focused on their tool.
WW: Why did you want to use your jacket to decorate ten wooden boxes? Why is that the jacket you like to wear when you’re working?
LB: It’s the army jacket I use for all my photographs. Usually the best way for me to use the jacket is to choose somebody to wear it. But putting the jacket on the box is another good way of using it because it shows the humanity of what’s inside, all the human work behind a bottle of Ruinart.