A massive snake in real life? Absolutely frightening. A massive snake skeleton, aluminum and stainless steel structure on the other hand? Absolutely exciting and awe-inspiring. Such is the Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping’s amazing aluminum snake sculpture, an installation he dubbed, Ressort. Designed and installed in 2012 for the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, this magnificent structure features a snake skeleton made of silver vertebrae, undulating in a sinuous manner from the ceiling to the floor. The beautifully extending sculpture spans 53 meters across the Watermall and was a great centerpiece for the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art #7.
About Huang Yong Ping
Huang Yong Ping was born in 1954 in Xiamen, China and is a contemporary artist who was part of the first students to be admitted to art academies after the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution1. Here, the artist developed a penchant for French postmodern theory, and along with the influence of Taoist and Zen Buddhist, he cofounded Xiamen Dada2, a well-known avant-garde group that mainly deals with construction materials in galleries as opposed to artworks. He lived in France where he shone the limelight on his art and as a result, while his artwork features Chinese mythological symbols such as the snake, it also sprinkles symbols and mythologies from the West; an approach that is evident in Ressort.
The meaning of ‘Ressort’
‘Ressort’, which is French for ‘spring’ is an apt name for this art piece as it also means energy. Huang’s use of the snake is evident in most of his work as the snake represents a central symbol of Chinese mythology3, and this specific pose that the skeleton took on as if uncoiling from the ceiling to the ground represents controlled energy and resilience. The snake in ancient Chinese myths is also a representation of knowledge and wisdom. In other Western cultures, it may be taken to represent fear, deception, desire and creation, even as evidenced in the Bible story of the Garden of Eden.
Olafur Eliasson – Waterfall, 2016, crane, water, stainless steel, pump system, hose, ballast, Chateau de Versailles, Versailles, France
Photo: Anders Sune Berg
In his 2016 work on the Versailles waterfall, Olafur Eliasson made displacements and destabilization which have changed the perceptions people had about the famous landmark. Before he began his work, he approached the Chateau and gardens of Versailles to experiment whether the project was implementable. His work didn’t involve installation of objects, but rather coming up with an apparatus which kept visitors engaged. The erection of the ‘waterfall’ in the Grand Canal where a surge of water rushes down a crane standing tall in the air turned into a major tourist attraction. This installation was inspired by Louis XIV’s landscape architect André Le Nôtre who had a vision of creating a waterfall in the palace gardens, but he passed on before he did it.
Ana Teresa Fernández – Erasing the Border – Borrando la Frontera, 2012, Playas de Tijuana, Mexico
Ana Teresa Fernández, an artist born in Tampico, Mexico who studied in San Francisco, California and Lausanne, Switzerland, is known for her ability to make a powerful statement. Her statement is especially strong when it comes to the politics of space and place.
Her piece, “Erasing the Border” is one of her most commanding works in which alongside a number of other artist, residents, students and activists, she led an attack against the Mexico-US border wall, with the goal of “erasing” sections of the border. Sections of the fence were painted by Fernández to match the vast sky so that when viewed from afar there is the illusion of gaps in the fence. This appearance of a broken link, a useless border, is an effective statement on the arbitrary concept of borders separating place from place.
Andrew Beccone – Photo: Phil America
Andrew Beccone is an artist with a master’s degree in Information and Library Science and the founder of the Reanimation Library, a collection of carefully selected books. I caught up with Andrew during his residency at the Queens Museum Studio Program1. While there have been remote temporary iterations in cities across the US and the World, this museum is the library’s current home. When I first met Andrew, I was eager to hear his thoughts on building a space that encourages participation and collaboration. My own work relies heavily on interacting with spaces and people in performative ways and documenting the process. Andrew has taken documentation (specifically books that are often deemed worthless in today’s age, that have particularly interesting imagery) and placed them into a context that alters their meaning and value, encouraging people to interact with the content. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of creativity transcending the boundaries that we as a culture place on it, and was interested to hear how he merged the two worlds of fine art and books.