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Rock a Bye Deadly Baby: The Ne Zha Works of Shi Jinsong

The Ne Zha Baby Boutique By Shi Jinsong, 2006 - 2008

Na Zha (or Nezha), is a Chinese mythical creature, an impish trickster with supernatural powers and flamboyant fashion sense (legend has it his red silk trousers generated so much heat the sea began to boil, enraging the East Sea Dragon King). Na Zha's essential ferocity long since tamed in the Chinese psyche, he is now chiefly celebrated as a God of Lotteries and Gambling, a commodified totem of the new global economy.

above left; the exhibition catalog. above right; the artist Shi Jinsong

Through his razor-sharp sculptures and related works, Shi Jinsong initiates a dialogue, at once menacing and ironic, between the forms of mythic Chinese culture and modern day globalization. "Na Zha" is here recast as the brand name for an outrageously unsafe line of baby products.

Meticulously assembled in stainless steel from intricate mechanical drawings, they include a deadly Carriage; a sadistic Cradle; a sinister Walker; and a malicious, multi-part Toy complete with needle-tipped pacifiers and dismembering abacus. Baby Boutique confronts its "shopper" with a radically strange and seductive "product," lethal luxury designed to reveal the forces that dominate our lives in unimaginable ways. - above text courtesy of Absolute Arts

Various Ne Zha strollers by Shi Jinsong:

For his first exhibition at Chambers Fine Art in 2006, Shi Jinsong produced a range of articles for baby Ne Zha, consisting of cradles, strollers, rattles and a walker. Two years later, in the second showing of Ne Zha, the infant seems to have grown up into a toddler and Jinsong's works include miniature suits of armor, a rocking horse, roller blades, a scooter and a tricycle.

Images from the first show (2006) at Chambers Fine Art Gallery:

above: Na Zha Stroller, Stainless steel, 2005, 40 1/6 x 38 5/6 x 32 2/7 in (102 x 98.6 x 82 cm)

above: Na Zha Cradle, Stainless steel, 2005, 24 x 31 7/8 x 24 3/8 in (61 x 81 x 62 cm)

above: Na Zha Rattle, Stainless steel, 2005, 3/4 x 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 in (30 x 13.3 x 9.6 cm)

above: Na Zha Baby Bottle, Stainless steel, 2005, 3 x 5 x 5 in (7.6 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm)

above: Na Zha Baby Toys, 2005, stainless steel

above: Na Zha Walker, 2005, stainless steel, 54 x 59 x 66 cm

Images from the second show (2008) of the Ne Zha Baby Boutique, 2008:

Above: baby suit of armor, stainless steel, 2008

above left, stainless steel baby armor and right, a stainless steel scooter, 2008

above: Full Armor-Mouse, Stainless steel, 2008, 31 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 7 7/8 in. (80 x 30 x 20 cm)

above: Rocking Horse, Stainless steel, 2008, 26 x 34 x 15 3/8 in. (66 x 86.5 x 39 cm)

above: Rollerblades, Stainless steel, 2008, 14 1/8 x 5 7/8 x 8 1/2 in. (36 x 15 x 21.5 cm)

above: tricycle, stainless steel, 2008

Earlier this year, Shi Jinsong's Ne Zha works were part of a 'China - contemporary revival', exhibition at the Palazzo Reale, in Milan, Italy. The images below are from his works in that show, courtesy of Designboom.

about the artist:

Born in Danyang County, Hubei Province in 1969, Shi Jinsong enrolled at the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1994, majoring in sculpture and mastering a gamut of traditional techniques. Under the influence of three powerful stimuli - radical socio-cultural change in China; a reading of Foucault's Madness and Civilization; and the birth of his first daughter - the artist began to investigate ideas of transformation and control.

The images in this post are courtesy of Chambers Fine Art, Saatchi Gallery, Marella Gallery, ArtNet

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