“By violating the rules of common sense, we can break the hypnotic trance induced by familiar reality.”
Born An Kang City, Shanxi, 1985
Liu Di got the idea for his bizarre Animal Regulation series (2008) on a bus ride through the crowded suburbs of Beijing. “Looking out at the decrepit housing blocks, I had a vague but strong feeling that there was something missing between the ground and the sky,” he recalls. He felt the urge to add something that would make people take a fresh, long look at these familiar scenes. The extra thing should be “powerful and impossible to ignore, but not something that would make people panic. … Eventually I decided it should be a huge animal.” Using photo editing software, he reproportioned a panda, a rhinoceros, a monkey, a rabbit and a frog and inserted them at gigantic scale into shabby urban settings. By shoehorning these bottom-heavy beasts into back streets, construction sites and tenement courtyards, he highlights the relationships “between nature and human society, between the material world and the intellect, between obedience to and violation of the laws of nature.” It is only when our preconceptions are jolted, Liu Di concludes, that “we wake up and truly see”.