MON­U­MENTA 2016: Huang Yong Ping’s EM­PIRES At the Nave of the Grand Palais


Un­der the enormous glass and steel dome of the nave of the Grand Palais in Paris, the Franco-chi­nese con­cep­tual artist Huang Yong Ping (born in 1954) has filled up the space with Em­pires, an in­stal­la­tion for Mon­u­menta 2016, the es­tab­lished artis­tic event that the French Min­istry of Cul­ture or­gan­ises.

Mon­u­menta takes place ev­ery two years in the French cap­i­tal, where one in­ter­na­tional artist is asked to fill the stu­pen­dous space of the Grand Palais. It has be­come a very spe­cial event in the in­ter­na­tional con­tem­po­rary art scene, which started in 2007, Mon­u­menta 2016 be­ing the sev­enth.

The nave, mea­sur­ing all of 13.500 square me­tres, and reach­ing 35 me­tres high, is an im­pres­sive glass and steel struc­ture con­structed in 1900, in the Novem­ber 2016 ‘Belle Époque’ style. This large area is as­ton­ish­ing with its size and grandeur.

Ping is fa­mous for his large-scale work. The in­stal­la­tion for Mon­u­menta 2016 com­prises three el­e­ments: con­tain­ers, a hat, and a ser­pent. There are 305 ship­ping con­tain­ers that con­front the view­ers as they en­ter the nave. They are dis­trib­uted to form eight is­lands, as num­ber eight in Chi­nese rep­re­sents the uni­verse, and cre­ate moun­tains and val­leys, over which ex­tends an enormous skele­tal snake.

The many con­tain­ers, with their dif­fer­ent colours and slo­gans, present a colour­ful and im­pos­ing sight. They are contributed to the pro­ject by one of the big­gest mar­itime com­pa­nies in the world, the SMA CGM, owned by the Fran­cole­banese busi­ness­man Jac­ques Saadeh. The eight in­dus­trial moun­tains sym­bol­ise

The Wind­ing Snake

Napoleon's Hat

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