Huang Yong Ping Brings “Empires” of Globalization to Paris

Words by Carla Ingrasciotta
May 9, 2016

Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, based in France since 1989, has joined the ranks for Monumenta 2016. His latest creation, “Empires,” commissioned for the Paris Monumenta art show, which began on Sunday May 8th and runs through June 18, will take on the realms of military history and economic globalization.

Empires will fill the main hall of the Grand Palais exhibition space with 305 shipping containers piled in eight “islands”; a mobile gantry crane partly supporting an aluminum snake skeleton that is more than 250 meters, or 820 feet, long and coiled over the boxes; and a representation of Napoleon’s bicorn hat 50 times the size of the original. If Rabelais’s infant giant Pantagruel had played with Lego bricks, his nursery might have looked like this.

Weaving over and through the containers—like morning mist crawling across the mountains in traditional Chinese paintings—is the serpentine skeleton of a 130-ton aluminum snake, its glinting vertebrae supported by metal piles and yoked together with cables. It was produced in five different factories, one in China and four in France, to emulate manufacture in today’s globalized market economy.

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