Chinese artist Xu Bing spent two years creating his work, Phoenix. The installation features two monumental birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in urban China, including demolition debris, steel beams, tools, and remnants of the daily lives of migrant laborers. It is a beautifully crafted symbol of the complex relationship between the labor force, accumulation of wealth, and history of China.
The internally illuminated 12-ton birds are suspended mid-air, dwarfing viewers; the male Phoenix Feng measures 90 feet long, while the female Huang reaches 100 feet in length, beak to (steel) tail feathers. Xu Bing is widely considered to be among the preeminent Chinese artists of today.
All photos by Hideo Sakata
Korean artist and designer Choi Jeong Hwa is mostly known for his large lotus blossoms. With motorized fabric leaves opening and closing, simulating the movement of a live lotus flower, his sculptures are often installed in public space and create a link between the modern world and one of the most important cosmological symbols in Asia.
Check out the videos below to see his lotus blossoms in action or read more about Choi’s latest installation in Hong Kong.
About Choi Jeong Hwa
Choi Jeong Hwa is an artist and designer who works across many disciplines including art, graphic design, industrial design and architecture, using a broad range of media involving video, molded plastic, shopping trolleys, real and fake food, lights, wires and kitsch Korean artifacts. His playful practice comments on the privileged environment of art institutions and questions the prized status of artworks amidst a consumer-frenzied world.
Choi has participated in many biennials of contemporary art, including the Arsenale Kyiv (2012), the 17th Sydney Biennial (2010), the Gwangju Biennale (2006), the Venice Biennale – Korean pavilion (2005), the CP Biennale (2005), the Liverpool Biennial (2004), the Lyon Biennale (2003), the Yokohama Triennale (2001), the São Paulo Biennale (1998) and the Taipei Biennale (1998). Choi Jeong Hwa was born 1961 in Seoul, Korea. He lives and works in Seoul.
About Yoshitomo Nara’s sculptures
Nara’s large fiberglass sculptures are usually glossy white and resemble komainu, mythical lion-like animal statues commonly placed at the entrance to shrines in Japan as guardians. The artist who often uses dogs and children as subjects in his work sometimes combines both, like in his work White Ghost.
About Yoshitomo Nara
Since the Japanese pop movement in the 1990s, Yoshitomo Nara has received international acclaim with his distinct figurative style. His drawings, paintings and sculptures can be seen in the permanent collections at MOMA, New York, CAC Malaga, Spain, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia and his largest sculpture, a 27’ high concrete dog is permanently installed at the Aomori Art Museum, Japan. His mixture of vulnerability, rebellion and hopefulness within his artworks connects intimately with people worldwide. Nara also shares a deep connection with his fans and is always finding creative ways to interact with the public.
In October of 2012, New York artists FAILE unveiled their sculpture Wolf Within at the site of the National Garden Park in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The figure—a man cloaked in a wolf pelt, tearing away the remnants of a two piece suit in revelation—is a familiar one for those acquainted with FAILE’s work. Wolf Within was conceived on the brink of the 2008 financial crisis for a series of paintings that fused a decadent capitalist landscape with a lost but resurgent past. Images of native warriors set amidst gleaming skyscrapers opened the question of what we lose and gain in our pursuit for ever greater wealth, and figured the dangers of our entrenched political and economic systems.
For Western audiences, Wolf Within was a vivid illustration that the bull-market couldn’t last forever, and a world out of balance can only sustain itself for so long. Realized in 2012, in three dimensions, Wolf Within is a timely work for a Mongolian context. The figure’s suit invokes the influx of investors from around the world, and the wolf is, as ever, a potent symbol, a depiction of nature’s ferocious power and a reminder our environment and traditions cannot be forgotten.
Local sculptor and craftsman Batmunkh was invited to realize a concept created by FAILE and added his personal interpretation to their sculpture. Wolf Within embodies the similarity of the challenges faced by fast-modernizing places around the world. It also calls to mind the incredible changes Mongolia now faces, as a mineral rich and quickly urbanizing country. Afterall, the fortunes of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, increase as steadily as the mining of gold, copper, and uranium from sites like Oyu Tolgoi, shaking up a historically pastoral society. The consequences of this change are, of course, unknown, but Wolf Within is a reminder of nature’s strength, and its ambivalent dance with big money.
Photo by Arjen Noordeman
In 2005, MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) presented a monumental and uniquely American sculptural installation by Dave Cole. Cole’s project The Knitting Machine comprised two excavators specially fitted with massive 20′ knitting needles which produced an oversized American flag, which can be seen as both a celebratory gesture of pride and a commentary on America’s role in world affairs.
When the flag was removed from The Knitting Machine it was folded into the traditional flag triangle and was on display in a presentation case which Cole described as slightly smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle, accompanied by the 20′ knitting needles, and a video of the knitting process.
Muralla Alteña, 2013, plastic bags, wood, 600x380cm
El Choco, installation view
Luciano Calderon with Sandra Arcani, the producer of the knitted body and masks
Ahora Tienes Un Problema, Fuera De Control, El Dinero Es Mentira, 2013, hand woven masks
El Choco, installation view
Patrullando & Vigilando, 2013, two channel video, dimensions variable, Ed. 5
Crimen Andino, 2013, mixed on canvas, 200x150cm
Yo Soy El Alto, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 150x200cm
Estoy Perdido, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 120x150cm
Tienda Andrea, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 150x200cm
El Choco, installation view
Last week Luciano Calderon’s exhibition opened.
Click for all the information about the exhibition.
Tam Wai – Falling into the Mundane World, 2013
Falling into the Mundane World, commissioned for this project, reflects Tam’s ongoing interest in working in the public realm and exploring myriad responses to specific sites and contexts. The oversized female legs and cockroach sculptures point to ubiquitous aspects of life in Hong Kong as well as underlying ills that plague contemporary society at large.
Paul McCarthy – Complex Pile
Complex Pile is a 51-foot-high, 110-foot-long, inflatable sculpture of a twisted pile of excrement. Embodying his rare ability to leverage bad taste to infiltrate the well-mannered confines of the art world, Complex Pile mocks its picturesque surroundings and pokes fun at the prudent qualities of public sculpture.
Choi Jeong Hwa – Emptiness is Form. Form is Emptiness, 2013
Departing from his usual cheery hues, Emptiness is Form. Form is Emptiness re-casts this iconic symbol of purity as something seemingly dark, or solemn. By placing the work on the future site of the park of West Kowloon Cultural District, a plot of land which cannot be said to be either wholly natural or man-made, Choi also points to hazy relationships between nature and artifice, urban and non-urban space, and to the presence, or absence, of nature within Hong Kong’s increasingly urban, often consumer-frenzied environment.
Cao Fei – House of Treasures, 2013
Fascinated by places and moments in which people can bring their private imaginings to life and intersect with the public sphere, Cao has created House of Treasures, an outsize inflatable suckling pig that celebrates themes of prosperity and abundance. Part playful interactive attraction, part nod to Hong Kong’s food-obsessed culture, House of Treasures injects a space of leisure and pleasure into the West Kowloon site, while prompting visitors to ponder the meaning behind such enjoyment.
Tomás Saraceno – Poetic Cosmos of the Breath
Inspired by the work of Dominic Michaelis, an English architect and inventor who pioneered the technology for a solar-powered hot air balloon, Poetic Cosmos of the Breath is a time-based experimental solar dome that takes flight only under certain climatic conditions. It uses deceptively simple materials — a paper-thin foil membrane accompanied by a few sandbags and a handful of participants, to produce a startlingly ethereal, shimmering effect.
Jeremy Deller – Sacrilege, 2012
Sacrilege, a life-size bouncy castle in the shape of Stonehenge, encapsulates Deller’s interest in the generative spirit of public participation. By recasting one of the world’s most famous existing prehistoric monuments (closed to the public since 1977) as an interactive public sculpture, he allows audiences to reacquaint themselves with history in a high-spirited and entertaining manner.
Jeremy Deller – Sacrilege, 2012
Inflation! is the name of a project that shows six large-scale inflatable sculptures on the site of the Park at West Kowloon Cultural District. The large-scale inflatable sculptures by Cao Fei (China), Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea), Jeremy Deller (UK), Jiakun Architects (China), Paul McCarthy (USA), and Tam Wai Ping (Hong Kong) pose questions about the nature of public art and the ways in which audiences might engage with it. The works are on public display until 9 June 2013.
By transforming the current site into a (con)temporary sculpture park of inflatables, Inflation! attempts to consider how certain realities and preconceptions around art in public space can be altered, undermined and challenged in the context of an evolving and endlessly mutating cultural and urban landscape.
Images: AP / Getty, via Dailymail