This post has been updated. Click to hear from the artist!
Spotted and snapped by @ShanghaiTattoo
It’s a mind-blowing billboard, spotted in Huangpu district of Shanghai, near a hip new restaurant complex. It’s nearly psychedelic, and the confusing mashup of imagery is mostly environmental. I won’t try to interpret, but let’s list off the basic images:
- “Siddhartha Obama” looking peaceful, flanked on his left by an ‘Environmental Catastrophe’; on his right is ‘Green Progress’.
- Dick Cheney is driving the 21st century General Lee, an American Flag painted HUMMER.
- Dr. Steven Chu is dressed like a Mech Warrior and wielding a wind turbine as a weapon.
- A Polar Bear is riding a bicycle.
I googled around wondering about this and I discovered that this is extrapolated from a video/digital piece by Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung. He describes the piece on his website:
Obama as Siddhartha Gautama dealing with global warming and renewable energy. The scene is loosely based on Shakyamuni’s first sermon at Deer Park, Northern India. Obama is holding a solar panel in his hand, set in motion the Wheel of Life (Bhavacakra) with an Earth inside it.
Divided into two panels, the left panel represents the renewable energy and the right panel represents the oil and coal industry. Elements in the “Clean” side include Stephen Chu as Vajrapani– the protector and guide of the Buddha using the wind turbine to fend off CO2, a Polar Bear with a bicycle on the cloud, a Shinto shrine and a Free Tibet flag. On the “Dark” side are Dick Cheney driving a Patriotic Hummer trying to attack Obama, polluted coal and nuclear plant, burning oil rigs and drills, gas pump on top of US military coffin, a deer with gas mask and a bird drench in black oil.
I’ve emailed the artist to find out if he is behind this installation. UPDATE: He got back to me! Below is his email:
Nice to meet you!
Yes that’s my work, a fellow artist/ gallery director Mathieu Borysevicz invited me to participate. You guys should hang 😉
Hows life in Shanghai?
KENNETH TIN-KIN HUNG
Anyone know Mathieu? Maybe he can tell us what’s up and if there are plans for more!