Posts Tagged ‘Shen Shaomin’

I wanted to visit Biennale on Cockatoo Island one last time before it ended on 31st Saturday. So I travelled into the city on bright and sunny 27th Tuesday afternoon. After a long trek I ended up at my penultimate stop Circular Quay where I would catch a free ferry over to the Island. But of course I missed it by just five minutes! And the next one was not scheduled to arrive until the next hour, naturally my luck!

So to make use of my sudden abundance of time I thought I would visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. Having viewed art in such spacious surrounds on the Island the MCA seemed much more confined, claustrophobic and artificial which made me feel uncomfortable making the whole experience less enjoyable. However something that really resonated with the venues mood was the Bonsai series fashioned by Beijing artist Shen Shaomin.

It was an eerie and unusual series of bonsai trees that had grown larger than usual bonsai sizes but were also constricted into extremely contorted and deformed configurations, which were controlled by various mechanical and metallic contraptions.

Shen Shaomin, Bonsai No.7, 2007, plant, iron tools

Bonsai No.7 (2007) by Shen Shaomin - Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery

My initial reaction was deep anguish and sympathy for the bonsai trees’. I began to think how could I feel sorry for trees? Of course there is the environmental aspect that humans are a real detriment to nature but I felt that these trees could also represent other living and breathing organism such as humans ourselves. It was at this point where I could even empathise with the torturous pain the bonsai trees had been through to look so deformed.

As explained by one by the Biennale website

Simply and powerfully, these works address the artificial and sometimes painful aspects of beauty and control in society – allegorically exposing deeply rooted systems of thought formed by tradition and culture. In doing this, Shen implicates us as part of the system that allows such control to endure.

I think that Shaomin’s allegoric work which evokes such deep human emotions and reflections of our changing society is art of high calibre

What do you think?

How did you feel when you observed the Bonsai series?

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