Liu Wei: On ‘It Looks Like a Landscape’

In this video, Liu Wei tells the story behind his 2004 work, It Looks Like A Landscape. After the 2004 Shanghai Biennale panel rejected several of his proposals, Liu Wei submitted this photograph featuring buttocks and body hair, which, to his surprise, was accepted.

He went outside his usual preferred mediums of installation, painting, and video to create this seemingly classical landscape that mocks arbitrary institutional standards. Its monumental size and horizontal composition is a contrast to the traditional handscroll in the literati context, where viewing is an intimate and personal act.

Liu Wei’s artistic practice is primarily concerned with the changing cityscape and contemporary issues stemming from globalisation.

This monochrome photograph which looks like a landscape is, in fact, a collage of naked bodies. They are formed by people bending over with their buttocks pointing towards the sky. With their sides facing us, their thighs and backs form the slopes of either side of the mountains. The folded fat around the waistlines resembles curved cracks on the mountains. Some mosquitos rest on the knees and thighs of the bent bodies.

Liu Wei, It Looks Like a Landscape, 2004, chromogenic colour print. M+ Sigg Collection Hong Kong. By donation. © Liu Wei