(Photo by Gladstone Gallery)
Huang Yong Ping's Tower Snake is a spiral ramp taking the form of a cast-aluminum snake skeleton. The lone installation at Gladstone Gallery's 21st St. location in New York (through July 31), the installation is made to be walked on: head deep in the snake's ribcage, visitors walk up a creaky scaffolding constructed from bamboo posts and slats. The gallery describes the work:
In transforming the rib cage of the snake into a series of arches, Huang Yong Ping echoes the architecture of a Gothic cathedral, simultaneously reworking this Western style with Eastern materials and subtly transforming the cruciform symbol of Christian salvation into the tangled figure of Edenic temptation. More importantly, this Tower of Babel-like sculpture depends upon the natural material of bamboo reaffirming its link to Eastern construction.
But if past works by Huang are any guide, he's also playing with another idea: His giant wooden snake spine in the Walker Art Center's 2006 show House of Oracles was described to me by curator Doryun Chong (now at MoMA) as the digestive tract of the museum, raising questions about the "capacity and limitations of the institution’s 'digestion' of art."