The title of the exhibition which took place at the MAXXI in 2015, Bâton-Serpent, was chosen by the Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping: recalling a passage of Exodus in the Bible, the artist wanted to highlight the deep meaning of the project as a whole. An ironic reflection, sharp and critical of the various systems of faith professed by man in an attempt to delineate a different “map of the global civilization.” Huang Yong Ping was born in 1954 in Xiamen, Chinese province of Fujian.He lives and works in Paris. He is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in today’s world art scene. After completing his studies at the Fine Arts Academy of Zhejiang in 1982, Huang Yong Ping went back to his native city, where he founded the Xiamen Dada, a collective of artists interested in creating a new Chinese cultural identity, connecting the trends of Western Modernism with the Oriental traditions of Zen and Taoism .
Many of the works in the Exhibition, which recalled religious symbols from different cultures, were reinterpreted by Huang Yong Ping highlighting the unintended threat to the coexistence of peoples. Hei Hei Sina Sina, for example, represented a giant prayer mill used by Tibetan Buddhists, which produces a pacifying rotating sound ; a close look could show how this was actually composed of a wooden pole which is the image of Chinese weapon, called mao, while the cover was a shield.
The symbolic power of many archetypes can also be increased to the point that different faiths unite in a single, enigmatic icon. This is the case of Bâton de Serpent, which is the skeleton of a giant aluminium snake inspired by Chinese mythology, but also by the pagan and the Christian religion. In this case art, architecture and other creative fields can take the “advantage” of the economic crisis and political chaos of the moment and develop innovative ideas, practices and works – instability always triggers experiment and social engagements are the best source of inspiration and a “raison-d’être” of creation.