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Shen Shaomin

Bonsai #31,China ,2007

Plant, iron, 126x80x60 cm

Courtesy of Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin/Beijinge

Shen Shaomin belongs to the group of experimental artists in China. He addresses problems of religion and politics, and searches for the connection between the terrifying reality of the new industrialized China and the ancient heritage of Chinese culture.

His political works have led him to his “Bonsai” series. Here he can return to the roots of Chinese tradition and culture. Shaomin sees a connection between the distortion and regimentation of women’s bodies and the treatment of bonsai trees. The abuse of the bonsai trees is as grave as the custom of binding the feet of Chinese girls because it is camouflaged as a natural process, and is based on the same conventions, assumptions and ways of thinking. Shaomin depicts what is done to the trees in the “factories” where bonsai trees are shaped as surgery, in which the trees are cut, pierced, twisted, bound and bent in order to reshape them and give them an antique appearance. In the Bonsai series Shaomin exposes man’s violence against nature and emphasizes the cruelty that turns brutality into an aesthetic conception. Shaomin shows the bonsai trees in the middle of the transformative process – taken from the production line, like a scene in a movie, like prisoners in chains. He calls them “living installations”..