Go see – London: Zhang Huan’s Zhu Gangqiang at White Cube Mason’s Yard through October 3, 2009

September 4th, 2009

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No.6, via White Cube

An exploration of memory, spirituality and hope through the miraculous survival of a pig is being conducted at London’s White Cube by Chinese performance and visual artist Zhang Huan. The show is based around one of the greatest natural disasters to hit China in recent memory. In May 2008, an earthquake reaching magnitude of 8 on the Richter Scale killed 60,000 people. Amongst the chaos, for 49 days, a pig persevered. Carried by Buddhist belief that the soul remains on earth between death and transmigration for exactly this amount of time, this pig is now a symbol of life and hope, renamed Cast-Iron Pig (or Zhu Gangqiang in Chinese, hence the theme of the show).

Related Links:
Exhibit Details
[White Cube]
Zhuang Huan to design and direct a new production of Handel’s Semele [De Munt La Monnaie]
These Little Piggies Went to Art Show [London Evening Standard]
Zhang Huan: from Baroque to Beijing [Telegraph]

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No.0, via White Cube

More text and photos after the jump…

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang, via White Cube

Taken by the folk-legend status the pig’s trial achieved, Huan bought the original pig from a farmer, and now houses it in his Shanghai studio.  The exhibit includes drawings of the pig’s story created from incense ash from Buddhist temples, where the pig itself seems to glow amongst scenes of desolation. Also included are live streaming video of Zhu Gangqiang, and an installation with two live pigs.  This living altar to those who died in the quake radiates with a sense of hope, yet also the diaphanous divide between life and death. According to Huan, “This exhibition is about life, rebirth, and love for all. It is a collective remembrance of those killed in the earthquake and a blessing for those who survived.”

The show at White Cube ends October 3rd. For an interesting companion piece pairing, see the directorial debut of Zhang Huan’s take on Handel’s opera Semele, opening September 8th in Brussels. After moving on to Beijing and Shanghai, the show is expected to change, as Huan’s work is mutable according to its surroundings.

Zhang Huan, Felicity No. 5, via White Cube

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No.11, via White Cube

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No.4, via White Cube

Installation View of Zhang Huan’s show via
White Cube

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No.8, via White Cube

Installation View at White Cube