'Dead dictators' draw Hong Kong art crowd

Chinese artist Shen Shaomin with a replica of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
Chinese artist Shen Shaomin with a replica of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at Art Basel in Hong Kong.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HONG KONG • A "breathing" Fidel Castro is among several former communist leaders gathered in Hong Kong this week - one of the world's centres of capitalism - as part of a cheeky exhibition at Art Basel.

Lifelike replicas of Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh and the former Cuban leader are lying in state in the city's harbourfront convention centre, drawing curious, smartphone-snapping art enthusiasts.

Made from acrylic and silica gel and dressed in their signature uniforms, all lie in glass coffins, except for the Castro replica, which can be seen "breathing" almost imperceptibly on his deathbed.

The installation, called Summit, was created by Chinese artist Shen Shaomin who said the work was conceived as a response to the global financial crisis of 2008.

It was originally commissioned for the Sydney Biennale contemporary art festival in 2010 - when Mr Castro was still alive - as an imaginary meeting of former dictators to parody the now defunct G-8 grouping of wealthy industrialised nations.

"Many Western scholars have become suspicious about capitalism, and compared and discussed theories of communism, so I have created the 'G5'," Shen told Agence France-Presse.

"People from different countries, different cultural backgrounds, different experiences have their own ways to interpret it," said Mr Shen.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline ''Dead dictators' draw Hong Kong art crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe