To scroll through the photographs of Beijing-based photographer Silin Liu is to take a trip through some of the most iconic and memorable moments of history captured on film. The one constant in all of the images is the presence of Celine Liu, the photographer’s chameleon-like alter ego. In Liu’s version of history, Celine is there for all of the most monumental events: partying with Princess Diana, light-painting with Picasso, and riding shotgun in a car in 1963 Dallas, Texas, moments before a bullet took John F. Kennedy’s life.
Like the artist Cindy Sherman, Silin Liu uses Celine to perform varying identities and take on specific stereotypes. But whereas Sherman’s alchemy of transformation is focused mostly on costuming, Liu’s secret is some serious Photoshopping. This allows Celine to slip into a new identity and seamlessly inhabit a familiar setting for an endlessly entertaining series titled I’m Everywhere.
For Liu, “everywhere” knows no limitations—either of location or time period. Celine is sultry in lace and a ’50s-era bob in a portrait of her and Marilyn Monroe. Elsewhere she’s an accomplice to Andy Warhol, a protester alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and a reluctant picnic-er with a pigtailed Audrey Hepburn. She’s stoic and fabulous beside a seated Frida Kahlo, and studious and serious along with Simone de Beauvoir. In each image, she’s dressed for the part in costumes that, according to Wired, she pieces together from her parents’ closet or buys online. The character is shot via iPhone, either by a friend or with Liu using a self-timer, then Liu inserts herself into her famous settings using Photoshop.
Liu started working on the series in 2012, after coming across a photograph of Chiang Kai-shek, who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, posing alongside his wife Soong Mei-ling. Liu subbed herself in place of the general, turning it into an image of two modern women in Old China. In that vein, Liu has gone on to use her Photoshopping and costuming skills to rewrite history in her own image. The result is a series both strikingly familiar and delightfully new. View a selection of the series in the slideshow above.