Zhuang Hui and Dan’er: 11 Degrees Incline at Art Basel Hong Kong

Artistic duo Zhuang Hui and Dan’er exhibit their new work, 11 Degrees Incline, at Art Basel Hong Kong, which runs 23 – 26 May. Representing the Magician Space, Beijing, the pair have collaborated since 2005, working together on Leftover Material from The Carpenters, where they replicated 27 pieces of debris produced by carpenters. Celebrating the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong art fair, the work will form part of the new Encounters section, a large-scale international collection of works sited around prominent positions throughout the fair.

11 Degrees Incline is a mixture of elements, all informed by the past and the present of the East and the West. The piece is made up of iron, copper and stainless steel covered in high gloss black varnish. The intricate design is built using the peculiar fragments that remain of the Dashuifa Fountains. The original fountains were designed by the Italian Jesuit missionary Giuseppe Castiglione alongside contributions by many other European artists of the time. But, the structure was ravaged in a fire laid by allied Anglo-French forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War.

The decision to use luxurious materials reflects a cosmopolitan lifestyle. The original Dashuifa was built using a plethora of skills now scarce in the modern era. By recouping this structure from the past with modern processes, the conjunction of old and modern skills has enabled the artists to shift towards a contemporary open question and subvert singular readings of this monument.

The work is named 11 Degrees Incline due to the alteration of the historical symbol, tilting the sculpture 11 degrees. Through this marginal shift and deliberate choice of materials, a structure from the past reappears in the present. For Zhuang Hui and Dan’er, the link between past events and present are continually negotiated by “rumours, stories, and thoughts”, which reappear in this sculptural work.

Zhuang Hui and Dan’er: 11 Degrees Incline, Art Basel Hong Kong, Encounters, Curated by Yuko Hasegawa, 23 May – 26 May