Chinese Construction Debris Used In Colossal Phoenix Sculptures

Originating in the Greek mythology, the Phoenix is nowadays known all over the world as a symbol of rebirth. Proof of that is that even Chinese artists showed interest in this bird.

Demolition debris and steel beams are usually discarded when a construction is finished. Xu Bing, an innovative Chinese artist, decided to put these to good use and created two massive sculptures of the Phoenix bird. These are definitely not the first works of art made out of found materials (trying to avoid the word garbage, even though that’s mainly what it is), but there is something majestic that definitely sets Xu Bing’s installations apart from any other similar projects.

The Phoenix Project was commissioned by Ravenel Art Group and is currently exhibited at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). If you happen to be in Massachusetts before October 27, make sure you check these two sculptures out, as they’re unlike anything you have seen before.

Here is an excerpt from the press release that announced the exhibition.”Drawing inspiration from the contemporary realities of his fast-changing country, Chinese artist Xu Bing spent two years creating his newest work, Phoenix. The installation features two monumental birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in urban China, including demolition debris, steel beams, tools, and remnants of the daily lives of migrant laborers. At once fierce and strangely beautiful, the mythic Phoenixes bear witness to the complex interconnection between labor, history, commercial development, and the rapid accumulation of wealth in today’s China.”

Each bird tips the scale at 12 tons and measures between 90 and 100 feet in length. Given the dimensions and the weight of these sculptures, getting them from China to Massachusetts must have been anything but easy. It took Xu Bing two years to complete them, but given the scale and the complexity of these sculptures, that’s very understandable.

The documentary Xu Bing: Phoenix provides additional details on how these sculptures came to be and how the artist created them.

It’s definitely interesting to see how some artists rely on pure raw materials when creating sculptures, while others turn to debris and garbage to create their masterpieces. While the works of art of the former might be more shiny, the ones of the latter required a lot more imagination and effort, things that shouldn’t be neglected by people who are seeing them.

If you liked this post, please check this upsettingly realistic Yoda sculpture and the life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex sculpture spotted on Seine riverbank.