Sydney Biennale – Li Hongbo

The second half of last week I assisted Li Hongbo and Tiffany Singh assemble their works for the Sydney Biennale on Cockatoo Island. For Li Hongbo I folded paper bullets into 3D forms while for Tiffany Singh’s work I glued the wind-chime hooks into place.

Li Hongbo‘s piece is made of brightly coloured paper cut into the shape of guns and bullets, which is then folded open to create a flower shape. To give you in idea of how much time and labor goes into it, in the two days that I assisted I only created around 300 of the 25 000 pieces required. It was a lovely environment to work in as once you got used to the repetition, you were able to sit around chatting and listening to music. Li and his sister were both really sweet, and let me video creating the bullets.

The piece looks incredible finished. Below is his statement taken from the Sydney Biennale website and some photos I took of the work.

Desire causes damage, damage results in hatred, hatred accumulates conflicts, conflict leads to war. Weapons are for war, not merely defend yourself but also to annihilate others. However all people are born of lust and destroyed by the same thing. This is the formation of blood and tears from thousands of years of human history and suffering, but also as the result. The ‘flower’ in my work looks so bright and grandstanding, whether people can really comprehend the damage hidden behind it. When the muzzle points to any creature, no matter for what purpose, it represents the end of life or a painful struggle. We are all losers when the fall of lives reveal in our sight. Where there is a life, strong or weak, long or short, large or small, coarse or fine, near or far, visible or invisible, born or to be born, all should be lived with infinite kindness and a heart to love. Do not do harm to others because of your own selfishness. The designer of AK47 once said that the purpose of manufacturing weapons is always for self-defence, not to kill. If this principle can be widely accepted, the world will not need weapons.

Li Hongbo

Li Hongbo

Li Hongbo

Li Hongbo

Li Hongbo

Li Hongbo

Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Tiffany Singh as there was a bit of a rush with her work in the end. Also need to revisit the island to scout out where the finished chimes are!

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