Jun Yang was awarded the Artist in Residence prize at the Austrian Sculpture Park for 2019. Starting from the myth that Marco Polo brought back to Europe from his trips to China knowledge about how to make ice and preserve it in summer, the artist reconstructs this traditional method. An ice block was buried in the Austrian Sculpture Park in November 2018 and will be dug up again at the Spring Celebration on May 19th, 2019.
Yang decided to make a children’s book rather than a catalog to accompany the project. He invited the Japanese children’s book illustrator Yuuki Nishimura to illustrate the publication. More on the book: The Emperor of China’s Ice
More on the project:
At the Austrian Sculpture Park to the south of Graz at the end of November 2018, an ice block measuring 1m3 was packed in a wooden box and sunk into hole that had been dug in the ground. This is the artist-in-residence project of Vienna-based artist Jun Yang, whose work deals with the transfer of cultural achievements and the creation of myths. Based on the myth that Marco Polo, returning from his travels to China, had brought back to Europe knowledge about the production of ice cream and its preservation until the summer, the artist recreates this method. At the same time, the Kunsthaus Graz will be showing a large personal exhibition of Jun Yang from 14 February 2019.
His fascination with the myth that merchant and discoverer Marco Polo had brought back to Europe dishes such as pizza, spaghetti and ice cream from his travels in China, as well as the knowledge of their production, inspired the Austrian-Chinese artist to carry out this project. He was particularly interested in how ice cream was preserved until the height of summer to be served to the Emperor of China as shaved slices with syrup or fruit. This method, which came from China to Rome and through Catherine of Medici to Paris, and thus spread the enjoyment of ice cream throughout Europe, is investigated by the Artist-in-Residence Project 2019 at the Austrian Sculpture Park. To this end, a 1m³ block of ice was buried in a ridge at the Austrian Sculpture Park at the end of November 2018 and will be unearthed in a performance at the Austrian Sculpture Park spring celebration on 19 May 2019.
“This extraordinary art project is ever so exciting because neither we nor the artist Jun Yang know what will happen. We are eagerly awaiting the result in May 2019,” commented the director of the Austrian Sculpture Park, Elisabeth Fiedler.
The ice block was put into a wooden box and sunk into a 1.3 m³ covered hole in the ground. The space between the casing and the earth was filled with poor heat conductors like ash and straw and covered with a 1.7m² wood panel bearing a reference to the project. Through this exciting experiment, the artist draws together technical observations, their implementation in real life as well as the construction of history. A striking sculpture is the visible sign of the complex, conceptual work. On offer at the festival, alongside Chinese food, will also be shaved ice cream, based on the original Chinese “Baobing” or Japanese “Kakigori” and served with red beans, mango fruit or Matcha.