Chinese Experience No. 6
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It was an amazing and surprising summer. I did not have any plans to travel abroad, then, suddenly, I received invitations to participate in two international sculpture symposiums in two cities in China - Changchun and Urumqi. As I am always so anxious to construct outdoor sculptures around the world, I did not want to give up any of them. Luckily both organizations accepted my participation. On the 25th of July I found myself flying to Beijing. I landed in Changchun and was welcomed at the Airport by several people including my translator Meng. I was informed that the symposium will take place in Shuangyang, an hour drive from Changchun. Anxious to start constructing my five Deer piece, I was disappointed that the organization did not prepare the iron plates. It took about ten days to find a place for cutting the iron. Then began my work with the computer technician who translated my designs for the cutting machine.
During this time while I waited for the parts of my Deer to arrive at the working camp, I was taken to see the highlights of Shuangyang.
Temple in Shuangyang
At last, the iron parts arrived, and we could start connecting the legs, and the supports to the body in order to build the whole Deer.
We started working on the 5th of August. I was anxious to connect all parts of the Deer and bring them to a standing position before leaving for Urumqi on the l4th of August. On the 6th of August, the plan was to visit Changchun sculpture park (which I also visited last year - 2008).
It was a marvelous day that ended with an extraordinary dinner in a very fine restaurant. There was great laughter and enjoyment among all the artists, translators, staff and friends.
The progress of the work was very slow. I had to press on the workers all the time. Sometimes one or more workers would just disappear. I and my translator Meng had to chase them. Luckily my intelligent and wonderful assistant Meng, helped me to get through these difficult days.
After all the frustrations, the five Deer are indeed constructed and standing.
Lifting the Deer to standing position
I am very happy and also pleased with the good reactions I received.
My sculpture Birds were lying on the ground, already cut and painted with the base color.
The initial plan was to build the Birds of 30 mm thick iron. I was surprised and happy to see that they were made of 50 mm. thick iron. It was always my dream to build sculptures of such thickness. Thickness, I believe, holds great power in itself.
The moment I had expected arrived when the crane erected the Birds.
And the process of painting started.
It is always so exciting and satisfying to see the idea, born in my mind, transformed and realized in painted sculpture of thick iron.
It is a mystery, this process of translating pure thoughts or ideas to a real sculpture.
Preparing the base
Another equally exciting moment was the installation of the four Birds, on the base that was finished the previous night.
Urumqi Sculpture Park, China
Group of Birds, 2009, Painted Iron, 620X730X460 cm.
The work was accomplished and what was left to do was taking a lot of photos, walking through the park and looking at all the other extraordinary sculptures made by other artists.
The symposium was coming to its end and the organization was busy preparing the closing ceremony which was very impressive and moving. A team of two television people from the Chinese Central TV wanted to interview me, of course I agreed. The first part was in the working camp. I told them about myself, my country and my work. At dusk we decided to continue with the interview the following day, before the closing ceremony. In the morning we met and walked around my sculpture.
I explained the message and meaning of the sculpture to them; The four Birds represent four ethnic groups. They bend towards each other, composing a group that signifies unity and harmony. Like in all my works, it symbolizes my wish for a better world, a world with less aggression and war, more consideration, love and peace between human beings, animals and nature.
Happy Family, 2009, Painted Iron, 430X1500X600 cm.
The Mayor of Shuangyang was very satisfied with my work. The Deer is their local animal and that is why they asked me to prepare a sculpture of Deer and not the other animals I had originally proposed.
I received an email that my model of the sculpture Birds Totem won a prize in the Shanghai Expo 20l0 contest. It is going to be enlarged to the height of five meters and displayed for the Shanghai Expo 20l0.
The time to go home arrived after almost forty days of being far away. I felt great. It is inspiring and challenging to construct big outdoor sculptures in far away countries like China. But when that is done, there is nothing more desirable than to take a seat on EL AL Airlines, among loud Israelis and know that after eleven hours I will be back home.