• Loy Luo

*Loy Luo's 100 persons' portraits Performance in pandemic New York(1)羅一:疫情纽约百人肖像行为方案与实施(上)

Updated: Sep 30, 2020


Since I arrived to New York at January 2020 and soon was trapped into the vortex of COVID-19, I began to do a performance of 100 persons' portraits in the pandemic New York and almost had kept doing for 5 months . Now the performance have been shown at the same time in WhiteBox Art Center, New York and Funspace Gallery, Roma, Italy, which is individually named "The Other I"(The Me in Others) (curated by Kyoko Sato)and "Who is the Me?". (curated by wangyongxu) Here I will share the executive condition of the performance. (add: The art project proposal including artist statement)

自我2020年1月来到纽约,很快就陷入了COVID-19的漩涡,我开始在大流行的纽约进行一个百人肖像行为艺术,几乎持续了5个月。现在,这一作品已经同时在纽约的WhiteBox艺术中心和意大利罗马的Funspace画廊展出,并分别被命名为“另一个我”(他人中的我)(由佐藤恭子策划)和“谁是我?”(王永旭策划)。这里我将分享这件作品的执行情况。其中有些内容来自我的艺术项目计划书和艺术家声明。


A) One hundred persons' portraits

A)百人肖像


The picture is from New York WhiteBox Harlem Art Center

图片来自纽约白盒子艺术中心

The picture is from Funspace Gallery, Roma, Italy

图片来自意大利Funspace画廊虚拟展厅


*Thinking happened in different phases

*不同阶段的思考


First phase-- No mask in NY,

until mid-March most New Yorker don't realize the importance of mask. No mask no coronavirus. In the phase, I focus on" Me, who is?" I thought much about in digital time human being's subject "I" lost into the countless fragmented and objective "me". In another word, I want to find back "I" through choosing the realer "me" in many photographs which are objective and fragmented, . These thinkings had be written into an artist statement for a group exhibition organized by New York University, as follows:

第一阶段----没戴面具的纽约

直到三月中旬,大多数纽约人才意识到面具的重要性。而这之前似乎没有口罩,没有冠状病毒。在这个阶段,我关注的问题是“我是谁?”即在数字时代,人类的主体“我”迷失在无数支离破碎且客体化的“我”之中。换句话说,我想通过在很多的照片(对象化客体化碎片化)的我中选择更真实的“我”而找回主体性的“我”。这些想法被写进了我应邀参加的纽约大学组织的一个集体展览的艺术家声明中,如下:

Me, who is?

“Who am I?” is an old philosophy proposition, while Me, who is? is my statement of today.

Today, taking quality photos has become so easy, so fast, so well composed that anyone can effectively create beautiful images. However, at the same time we dropped into a sea or pattern of transient moments in which it seems like we have lost the deepness and thickness of our souls.

Rembrandt was famous for expressing the depth of souls because he could extract the essence from superficial. The Post-Impressionism artists distorted form & shapes to achieve more reality. What should define what today 's artist do?

Recently, I saw an image posted by a friend on WeChat, and it inspired me to revisit drawing: a classical form of artistic expression.

When compared with photos, drawing has the characteristic of stability, time-consuming, use of the hand, etc. – in general, a far greater sense of permanence.

As I draw a subject, I get a strong sense of their humanity and their personality. And, this experience is far more interesting than the experience I get from photographs.

So, in essence, the aim of the Me, who is? project is to explore the varying nuances of today’s popular digital age’s means of documenting moments versus the oft forgotten traditional and, in my opinion – more significant means of documenting a moment through the art of drawing.

谁是我?

“我是谁?“是一种古老的哲学命题,而“谁是我?”是我今天面对的思考。

在我们今天的时代,拍摄高质量的照片变得如此简单,如此迅速,如此完美,以至于任何人都可以有效地创造出美丽的图像。然而,同时我们又落入了无数碎片化的瞬间的海洋。在表象的海洋中我们似乎依然失去了灵魂的深度,厚度。

我们知道,艺术史上,伦勃朗以表达灵魂的深度而闻名,因为他能从表象中提取精华。后印象派艺术家扭曲了表面的形式形状,以期达到更多的真实。今天的艺术家应该做些什么?

最近,我看到一个朋友在微信上发布的一张照片,我用铅笔把它画了下来,而这启发了我重新审视素描:这个经典的艺术表现形式。

与照片相比,素描具有稳定性、耗时性、手的使用性等特点——一般来说,持久感要强得多。

当我画一个主题的时候,我就会强烈地感受到每个人的人性和个性。而且,这种体验比我从照片中得到的体验有趣得多。

所以,本质上,“谁是我”项目旨在探索当今流行的数字时代记录时刻的方式与经常被遗忘的传统方式的细微差别,在我看来,更重要的是通过素描的这种更慢、更手工的艺术来记录更深刻的人物内心,从而使人的内在精神获得一种更被重视的状态。


(A interview video about my working stations, edited by Joseph Latimore)

(一个关于工作状态的对话视频,Joseph编辑,三月,2020)


In that project proposal, I also mentioned the intervention and support of contemporary technical media for traditional painting art creation itself, including the generation and supply of creation demand.

在那个项目提案中,我也提到了当代技术媒体对传统绘画艺术创作本身的介入和支持,包括创作需求的产生和供给。

Second phase--all mask in NY

It seems like only in one night, people felt and spread the panic. when people in the city all put on the masks, I rethought more about the relationship of the metaphor mask and real mask.

At a long term, I kept on thinking about people's spiritual mask which is a metaphor mask contrasts the real mask, the former is shield and exposed by the latter at the same time. It means I has been sensitive to people's spiritual masks just because I asked people to lay down their masks again and again. Some people refused to pay down their masks before the stranger, but some people who took off the physical masks could not put down their psychologic masks and even they don't know they always wear the masks which have been deeply fused in their faces.

For example, when I painted a young woman, firstly I looked through many her pictures which almost have an exaggerated and dramatic expressions. I felt that she has used to her self-protection mask. After much deliberation, I chosed a slightly smiling moment I shot for her. When the lady sas her own portrait, she immediately burst into tears. I said, “In fact you are naturally very beautiful.”.

第二阶段,所有人都戴上面具的纽约

似乎仅仅在一个晚上,人们就都感到了恐慌并蔓延开来。当城市里的人都戴上了面具,我对隐喻面具和真实面具的关系有了更多的思考。

长期以来,我一直在思考人们的精神面具,这是一种对比真实面具的隐喻面具,前者是面具被后者遮蔽,同时又被暴露。这意味着我对人们的精神面具反而更加敏感,只是因为我一次又一次的要求他们放下物质面具。有些人在陌生人面前拒绝放下自己的面具,有些人摘下物理面具却放不下心理面具,甚至不知道自己一直戴着面具,面具已经深深融合在其脸上心里。

举个例子,当我画一个年轻女子的时候,我首先看了很多她在社交媒体上的照片,几乎都有一种夸张和戏剧性的表情。我觉得她已经习惯了她的自我保护面具。经过深思熟虑,我为她选择了一个微笑的时刻。当这位女士看到自己的画像时,她很激动并涌出泪花。我说:“其实你本来的样子很美。”


Another interesting thing: some rich persons refused to take off their masks (because of privacy protection ideas or art cognition, some wealthy people had been brainwashed by some contemporary art education and thought portrait must no longer be good and pure art), but many of them agreed me to do portraits for their pets. I got a big surprise when I found dogs' facial expressions which are very natural and let I thought the dog’ face just like human being’s face especially my own face. The faces are characterized by joys, sorrows, greed, cunning, attack, lazy, vigilant....The finding also let me thought about the upgrade version of the project: who are "Me"s? (please pay attention: "me"s not "us") Through the depiction of the facial expressions of dogs, I realized that there is not only one so-called truer "Me", but have many different true “Me”s. It is be clearer when we look in dogs because they actually have some kind of humanness and never wear masks (in fact, dogs do not wear masks in epidemic). It also seems to imply that only by removing the mask can humanity achieve multiple truth.

另一个有趣的现象:一些富裕的人拒绝脱下面具(因为隐私保护的想法或艺术认知,一些富有的人受不全面的当代艺术思想的影响,认为肖像不再是高级的纯艺术),但他们中的许多人同意我做宠物的画像。当我发现狗的面部表情非常自然时,我感到很惊讶,狗的脸就像人类的脸,尤其是我自己的脸。这些脸的特征是快乐、悲伤、贪婪、狡猾、攻击、懒惰、警惕……这个发现也让我想到了项目的升级版本:谁是“我”s?(请注意:“我”s不是“我们”)! 通过对狗的面部表情的描绘,我意识到,真正的“我”不仅有一个,而是有很多不同的真的我。当我观察狗的时候,这一点就更清楚了,因为它们确有人性,且从不戴面具(事实上,狗在流行时是不戴口罩的)。这似乎也在暗示,只有摘下面具,人类才能获得多重真相。

Insert: some multilayered faces:

插入:一些多层次的面部


This is the artist Roland Gebhardt's portrait, in our dialogue he kept friendly smiling and laughing, but in my eyes he has another serious face without smiling. Every sharp deep thought person has a serious face. We talked about kinds of masks., maybe we can say, Roland focuses more on the relationship of mask and identity, while I focus on uncovering the real human nature.

这是艺术家Roland Gebhardt的肖像,在我们的对话中他一直保持着友好的微笑和大笑,但是在我的眼中他有另一张没有笑容的严肃冷峻的面孔。每一个思维敏锐深沉的人都有一张严肃的脸。我们讨论了各种各样的面具。或许可以说,罗兰更注重面具与身份的关系,而我更注重揭示真实的人性。

In that project proposal, I also mentioned the intervention and support of contemporary technical media for traditional painting art creation itself, including the generation and supply of creation demand.





This is Dancer Mabo's portrait. In this practice, we talked about the conflict of "real " and "expressing real" which let me got an idea: in fact, women have always been prisoners of gorgeous, even they really wanted to be wilder and freer.

这是舞者Mabo的肖像。在这次的实践中,我们谈到了“真实”与“表达真实”的冲突,这让我有了一个想法:其实女人一直都是美丽的囚徒,即使她们真的想要更狂野,更自由。

However, through the reflection on the emotion concealment and non-concealment of characters, we also probe into an important topic of Chinese classical aesthetics "concealment and presentation", which lays a foundation for the reflection on re-wearing masks in the later stage of the project.

但是,通过对人物情感藏与不藏的思考,我们也探入到中国古典美学的一个重要课题“隐藏与呈现”,而这对于项目后期重返面具的反思埋下了伏笔。



This is a writer and critic Anthony Haden-Guest's Portrait, before I did the portrait I hadn't seen himself, even I had no time to read his words, I began to draw him because there is something on the ethos in the photo which is my familiar kind, that is, the face and expression of a thinker who wants to explore deep truth through the appearance. Of course, because I didn’t meet the person before, the drawing process is in a state of some subtle not sure at first (photos can't give a completely information of the perception of a person) so I need to use my imagination, is about a real person's imagination, as if he is in front of me and I can touch the face. This helped me captured something lived and souled in the portrait.

这是作家兼艺术评论家安东尼.哈登-盖斯特的肖像,在画像前我没有见过本人,甚至连他的文字都没有来得及拜读,我之所以动笔是因为我觉得照片上的人物有些精神气质上的东西是我熟悉的亲切的,那是一种穿越表象探究真相的思考者的面容和表情,当然由于没有和本人见面的情况下动笔,所以画的过程起初是处在某种微妙不肯定的状态(因为照片不能给予一种完全真实的对一个人的确定感知)所以我需要动用我的想象力,是对活生生的人的想象力,仿佛他就在我面前,我可以触碰到一般。如此来帮助我在画面上捕捉一种所谓灵魂的动感的东西。



Third phase: tired masking in NY

From applause to Marching only used one night which shocked me more than the pandemic itself. This phase I did some videos and found more ridiculous and funny deeds on the streets. I also did several portraits of psychotic homelessness who obviously seem like live in different world. In the video "Applause and marching" I tried to express the ridiculous of the reversal of the masses mood which is often stimulated by some emergencie. This phenomenon is also our digital time's important characteristic.

I often felt confusing about the world-wide antiracial action. I painted many black friends, as human being I don't think they are different, like any other races, some good some bad. Based some deeper thought, I thought the deep discrimination was hidden in the anti-discriminational slogans. Just like I've always thought that feminism in some sense implied discrimination against women. But this argument is more complex, the intellectual class should ponder over the problem.

In addition, I was deeply confused about the protests expressed by large demonstrations and gatherings during the epidemic. However, there seemed to be no intellectuals to demonstrate the social ethics issues, and people seemed to be overwhelmed by a kind of morality.

第三阶段:对面具疲劳的纽约

从掌声到游行只用了一个晚上,这比大流行本身更让我震惊。在这个阶段,我录制了一些视频,发现了更多荒谬可笑的行为。我也画了几幅精神病无家可归者的肖像,他们显然生活在不同的世界里。在视频“掌声与行进”中,我试图表达群众情绪的反转,这种反转往往是由一些突发事件所引发的荒谬。而这也是数字时代的重要特征,只是在疫情中更大程度地被放大,这引起了我对于个体的主体的我与群体的我们之间关系的思考。

事实上,我经常对世界范围内的反种族运动感到困惑。我画了很多黑人朋友,作为人我不认为他们有什么不同,和其他种族一样,有好有不好。基于一些更深层次的思考,我认为深层的歧视隐藏在反歧视的口号中。就像女权运动在某种意义上也隐含了对女性的歧视。但这个论证比较复杂,是知识阶层应该深思的问题。

另外对于以大型游行聚会来表达的抗议在疫情期间也是我深感困惑的一方面,可是似乎没有知识分子来论证其中的社会伦理问题,人们似乎一面倒地被一种道德倾轧了。





B) A large drawing based on a street photograph

B)以一张街拍图片为原型所做的大幅素描




The tragedy of the mask's absence

The amnesia is a remarkable symptom of our times. For example, some people who tired pandemic social management would rather trust many kinds of conspiracy theories and began to drop off masks and attend in crazy happy parties even the infection data is still rising.

I think there should be some person who help our times remember some things which are important for people to catch some lessons.

I always remember the night of  February 23, when I went around times square for the first time and met some painters drawing portraits for people and the next day I painted the first portrait in New York. Even today, I don't know what enlightenment was hidden behind this coincidence: at the same day, I captured a photo of a double-decker tour bus, on which many tourists were sitting facing toward the window. The tourists maybe wanted to avoid the eyes of the passers-by, their faces looked  like wearing the white mask on stage, but without wearing physical masks  to protect them from the virus. So impassive it seems like they were sitting in a parallel time-space and were transported toward void.

面具不在场的悲剧

健忘症是我们这个时代的一个显著症状。例如,一些受不了疫情管控的人宁愿相信各种阴谋论,即使感染数据还在上升,他们还是开始摘下口罩,参加到各种疯狂的快乐派对。

我认为应该有一些人帮助我们的时代记住一些重要的事情,让人们抓住一些教训。

我一直记得2月23日的晚上,当我第一次在时代广场逛的时候,遇到了一些为人们画肖像画的画家,第二天我就画了在纽约的第一张肖像画。即使在今天,我也不知道这一巧合背后隐藏着什么启示:同一天,我在 时代广场抓拍了一辆双层旅游巴士的照片,许多游客正面对着窗户坐着,可能是想避开路人的目光,他们的脸看起来像舞台上演员们戴着的白色面具,却没有戴物理面具来保护他们免受病毒的伤害。他们看上去如此冷漠,就好像他们坐在平行的时空里,正被命运车轮传送到虚空。


C). Pixelated, dense colorful video contrast the black-white still New York Times at 24th May, on which 100,000 deaths' names were published .

C) 像素化、密集的彩色视频与黑白的5月24日发布的《纽约时报》形成鲜明对比,《纽约时报》刊登了10万名死者的名字。

New York Times at 24th May

Loy Luo 's iPhone photos' screen


His death is not my death, “Me” is not word and Number

On May 24, I received a friend's copy of the New York Times, which was full of 100,000 people's names who had died in pandemic.  My first reaction was Heidegger's "His death is not my death". Face such a major human disaster, it is not enough only think that "they are us". The "him" and "me" added with “s”don’t equal to “them” or”us" . “Me” can’t been synthesized to a class which haven't personality and characteristics. I believe, when we meet major human disasters, it is not too much to emphasize the existence of humble individuals, because it involves human's basic compassion. That is why in the midst of the epidemic, in the most severe difficulties ,I had been trying my best to depict every person with utmost patience. Some people said that the style of Luo is different from the academic school of superb skills, but a simple and sincere language. In fact, I believe that too much emphasis on craftsmanship would weaken the spiritual strength of art.

“他”的死不是“我”的死,“我”不是文字和数字

5月24日,我收到了一个朋友的《纽约时报》,里面全是在大流行中死亡的10万人的名字。我的第一反应是海德格尔的“他的死不是我的死”。面对如此重大的人类灾难,仅仅认为“他们就是我们”是不够的。“他”和“我”加上“s”不等于“他们”或“我们”。“我”不能被合成为一个没有个性和特征的类。我相信,当我们遇到重大的人类灾难时,无论怎么强调卑微的个体的存在都不过分,因为它涉及到人类最基本的同情心。这就是为什么在疫情期间,在最严峻的困难中,我竭尽全力,以最大的耐心描绘每一个人。有人说,我的风格不同于学院派,而是一种朴实真诚的语言。事实上,我认为,过分的对技艺的强调会削弱艺术的精神力度。

Life color lies in the relationships

I want to express that life is not cold and colorless figures and words in newspapers, ,life is colorful and full of love even some times we always feel confused with love. I did some group drawing in which people is not lonely, alert and sad, in fact they are more relax and soft with their lover’s company.

生命的色彩在于关系

我想表达的是,生命不是报纸上那些冰冷无颜色的数字和文字,生命是彩色的,充满了爱,即使有时我们总是对爱感到困惑。我做了一些组画,画中人们不再孤独,警惕和悲伤,事实上他们和爱人在一起时更加放松和柔软。


A birthday surprise gift from a wife



A father day's gift from a father's son both a son's father


In pandemic, father and daughter walk together in center park


D) Six videos

D)六个视频

- Life in Pandemic

-疫情下的生活



This video balances the sadness, pessimism and bad atmosphere with the positive moments of people's lives during the epidemic.这个视频用疫情中人们快乐积极的生活时刻去平衡当时悲伤悲观和恶劣的气氛。


- Meeting and Responding

-相遇与反馈



Throughout the epidemic, I insisted on going out and finding someone to touch my elbow (PENGBI, Chinese), and a new etiquette replaced the handshake. Of course, many times people turned me down (PENGBI, Chinese), but in the end I exchanged friendship and understanding with New Yorkers

整个疫情蔓延期间,我坚持要出去找一些人碰触手肘(碰臂),疫情期间取代握手的礼仪,当然,很多时候人们拒绝了我,(碰壁)但最后我和纽约人交换了友谊和理解。


- Applause and Marching

-欢呼与抗议




- New York in Pandemic

-疫情下的纽约



In this video, I used some classical music to manifest the magnificence and splendor City civilization of New York, and interacted with many documentary images I took on the street to express the great sadness brought by this global disaster and the confidence that the great achievements of human civilization would not be defeated. Contrast emotions alternately, reinforcing each other.

在这个视频中,我用了一些古典音乐来托衬纽约城市文化的瑰丽和辉煌,和我街拍的许多纪录实景影像交错进行,以表达这场全球性灾难带来的巨大悲伤和人类文明的伟大成就不被挫败的信心。对比情绪交替进行,相互加强。


- Art Discussion (continuing)

-艺术交流



- Loy Luo in Pandemic (not finished)

-疫情下的羅一(未完成)



E) archive diary:  WeChat, SMS, photo date, address etc. ( itinerary tracking)

(Loy Luo's dairy in New York)

E)档案日记:微信,短信,照片日期,地址等(行程跟踪)

(羅一纽约日记)

Today, I often think back to how things happened and changed. Some of the addresses and times recorded by the iPhone gave people a sense of confusion, fun and stranded, but it also gave people a kind of fragmented story with too honest but incomplete information, which was obviously a good story.

今天,我经常回想起事情是如何发生和变化的,iPhone手机记录下的一些地址和时间给人一种困惑、有趣、搁浅的感觉,同时也给人一种支离破碎信息过于诚实却不完整的故事,但显然是一个很好的故事。


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