This project was made for 2009 Shenzen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture.
Totem poles, shaped from huge cedar logs by the indigenous people of North America’s Pacific Northwest, were never meant to be religious objects. Instead, the bears, birds, frogs and supernatural beings carved into these monumental sculptures recounted the stories of their societies—family legends, clan lineage or notable events—thereby helping the tribes that created them make sense of a complicated world. In other words, these objects served as an instructional record of core cultural memory.
In the same spirit, I proposed to create inflatable balloon totem poles to reflect the dynamics of Shenzhen. I decided to create my totem pole as balloon rather than solid object to reinforce the temporal nature of consumerism and to capture a moment-in-time of the rapidly growing city: much as the air inflates, then ultimately escapes from my sculptures, the urban and societal landscape flows and ebbs in our cultural consciousness.
I wandered in Shenzen and asked one single question to many different people; original residents before “Special Economic Zone”, new residents after Special Economic Zone out side of Shenzen , foreigners who lives in Shenzen for business reason. “What will portray the city of Shenzen 2009?” I created the interview video to install next ti the totem pole.
My career as an artist has been devoted to exploring the effects of capitalism and consumerism in daily life, presenting exaggerations of cultural commentary that are simultaneously humorous and thought provoking. The totem poles are an extension of this inquiry.
Medium: inflatable balloon, blower, and video(10min)
Dimension: 6m tall (20ft high)
Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-city Biannual of Urbanism\Architecture 2009, Shenzhen, China