Florentijn Hofman: A Floating Fish in Wuzhen, China

Words by Carla Ingrasciotta
April 8, 2016

On the small lake surrounding an old amphitheater, Florentijn Hofman has set an oversized floating fish among the picturesque landscape of Wuzhen’s west scenic district.
Located two hours from Shanghai, this ancient town in China hosts Art Wuzhen for three months — an exhibition of international contemporary creatives who add their work to the context of the historic urban fabric. Hofman’s aquatic animal plays on the significance of fish in Chinese culture, said to bring happiness and wealth.
When Hofman first visited the site of the ancient amphitheater at the end of 2015, he was inspired by the unusual character of the setting, also, while traveling through the old water town, the dutch artist was triggered by his observation of local people feeding koi in a large pond, and by a series of sculpted reliefs depicting fish he found engraved on a wall.
Hofman’s work often relates to its environmental context and adapts local materials or products in their making. the 15 meter-long, 7 meter-high ‘floating fish’ is comprised of 12,000 kick boards in pink, orange, and yellow — the kind children use in swimming pools and which are made in china. while the colorful foam flotation devices clearly resemble individual scales, the material also serves as a symbol for a Chinese legend about a fish, which followed the yellow river and turned into a dragon.

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