Zhan Wang – Artificial Rock #10

DP158804

Artificial Rock #10 (2001) Zhan Wang (Chinese, born 1962) Stainless steel On view in Ink Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art (December 11, 2013–April 6, 2014)

Shiny and biomorphic, this contemporary scholar’s rock displayed in a Ming period room as part of the Metropolitan Museum’s Ink Art has an alien, otherworldly presence. In China, starting two thousand years ago, scholars would collect rocks to place in gardens or studies. Rocks that offered miniaturized representations of larger natural features are prized as are rocks that are thin, perforated, and wrinkled as these are evidence of powerful, slow-working natural forces. Artificial Rock #10 with its complicated, sloped surfaces look as if it had been sculpted by millennia of running water. But, in fact, sheets of stainless steel were hammered around a rock, then removed, welded together, and polished creating a hollow form – perhaps suggesting that the scholar’s rock itself has disappeared (at least its original referent). The shiny involuted surfaces are also intriguing; they make it hard to see your reflection and place yourself in this landscape.

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