Art And Culture

250 Meter Skeletal Serpent in Paris

250 Meter Skeletal Serpent in Paris250 Meter Skeletal Serpent in Paris

Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping has filled Paris’s Grand Palais art space with a giant snake and cliffs of shipping containers for the 7th Monumenta installation.

Entitled’ Empires’, the work, which has received rave reviews, is being seen as a metaphor for China’s economic muscle toppling western powers but the artist insists it is about history, art and philosophy, too.

A 240-meter-long, 133-ton aluminum snake skeleton with 316 vertebra and 268 ribs, cast in France, and a giant head, cast in China, twists under the Grand Palais’s cast-iron and glass dome, confronting a massive replica of Napoleon’s bicorn hat perched on top of an arch made from shipping containers.

A total of 305 containers, from shipping companies around the world and bearing inscriptions in various languages and scripts, are separated into five islands, which the visitor walks between, catching glimpses of the snake.

“Nothing has changed the world more in the last two decades than the internet and shipping containers. They are the motors of global capitalism,” Huang told AFP before the show opened.

“Maximum power means maximum destruction. Everyone wants to wear Napoleon’s hat,” he added. The hat is a five-meter-high reproduction of the one Napoleon wore at the Battle of Eylau, a French victory in 1807 that cost 25,000 lives.

Huang said it was “very important” that people walk in the belly of the snake, symbolizing the modern economy, because “we are the nourishment of the snake.”

Huang, 64, lives in France, having left China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. He is said to be the true founder of contemporary art in China.

His previous works include a giant metal sea snake on a Brittany beach, a Noah’s Ark in a Paris art school and Theater of the World, a cage full of live scorpions and tarantulas, which were set free in Vancouver following protests by animal rights activists.

Since 2007, internationally renowned contemporary artists have been filling the Nave of the Grand Palais with masterful works designed for the occasion. Monumenta runs until June 18.