A bizarre creature has been haunting some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in China, leaving behind vast arrays of thousands of giant eggs.
At least, this might be your first impression if you happened to crest one of the barren mountains of the Black Gobi last year when Chinese artist Shi Shaoping’s The Metamorphosis Series – The Eggs were installed there. Or, you may have stumbled across these same eggs installed in the golden sand dunes just outside of Dunhuang. If you were adventurous enough to approach the eggs, you would learn that what you had first taken to be the white of eggshells was actually a thick white glaze. Further inspection would reveal something much like a red terracotta clay right where the eggs nestled into the sand. A little tap and you’d know from the sound, though they may break, these ceramic eggs were never going to hatch.
To produce this sprawling artwork, Shi spent a year in the town of Jing De Zhen where he fired more than 3,000 22-pound eggs. (The entire piece weighs more than 48-tons.) Before these eggs ended up on the floor of the exhibition gallery of the Today Art Museum in Beijing (August 25 – September 9, 2013), Shi took his creations to some of China’s most dramatic landscapes, where he took into account the scale of the scenery when determining how to place the individual eggs. In addition to the mountains of the Black Gobi and the sand dunes of Dunhuang, the work transformed grasslands and coastal regions into bizarre nesting grounds.
What does this piece say about the fragility and origin of life? How, exactly, are these eggs going to hatch when they’re exposed to such a wide array of conditions?
The Today Art Museum likens Shaoping to “a fortuneteller who uses the 3,000 giant eggs to remind people of the weight of life.” This weight is augmented by the suggestion of unrealized potential when the eggs ended up—unhatched—in the art museum.
Shi Shaoping grew up in a family of biologists and was often surrounded by living specimens, such as frogs and insects, from his father’s biology experiments. In 1996, he graduated from the Stage Art Department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy and began working as an independent artist in 2008.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
Image above: Shi Shaoping, The Metamorphosis Series – The Eggs, 2013