In 1903, Georg Simmel wrote ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life,’ postulating the emergence of a new urban lifestyle and a sharp discontinuity from life as man had known it. Overwhelmed by the onslaught of stimuli, the modern man must uphold a reserved—and what Simmel calls blasé—attitude as a means of self-preservation. To live in the metropolis was to maintain a safe distance from the churning of its gears, a spiritual separation and freedom from its calculating forces.
So what does it take to get noticed in the city, to awaken the intrinsically unsympathetic dwellers of Simmel’s metropolis? For Chinese artist Liu Bolin, the answer is complete invisibility. The artist, informally known as Invisible Man, paints himself head-to-toe to blend into various urban milieus. One of his latest works took him to Ground Zero, where he camouflaged himself in front of the rising Freedom Tower as a tribute to the victims of 9/11. You can see more of his work at his exhibition Hiding In New York, which just opened at the Eli Klein Gallery in New York.