Céline Liu Takes Us Everywhere
Céline Liu: I'm Everywhere, Migrant Bird Space 15 Sept. – 30 Oct.
When I traveled to Berlin I had no schedule or path—just the conviction to write daily and travel the exhibition circuit of Mitte and beyond. My excursion started at Migrant Bird Space to view the work of the young Liu Silin 刘思麟 (born in 1990), and the global montage of her alter ego Céline Liu.
Céline Liu: I'm Everywhere is the first international solo show from the Chinese photographer who graduated from the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University. In this series of work, Silin Liu playfully tests the power of storytelling in a globalized world—where it seems we can be anywhere as proved by the power of click and edit (or a flight on a budget airline).
The images present a series of manipulated photographs with the artist's alter-persona (Céline Liu) in archival context. In each photograph, Céline Liu is shown casually posed with a global leader or icon such as, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso and Mao Zedong—reimagining the iconic images from history books and museum walls so often explored in a less than satirical narrative.
Liu's spin challenges the viewers historical memory, while providing an additional layer of curiosity into the imagined relationship between Céline Liu and each captured, seemingly iconic interaction. Like the photo of Liu positioned behind the shoulder of French writer and social activist Simone de Beauvoir (and one of my personal favorites)—her sinister glare and hand rested calmly on de Beauvoir's shoulder suggests a close camaraderie between the two or maybe just her attempt to direct de Beauvoir's aim toward a rivaled foe with the discreet point of a finger. The interpretation and fascination from these types of images are left up to the eyes of the viewer.
Although unreal, Liu gives the viewer something real enough via a moment frozen in time. That moment, feeling as equally fulfilling as the false realities 'curated' and depicted on various platforms in this age of digitalism, Instagram and instant photography.