Lily and Honglei @ Venice Biennial 2011

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See Venice 2011 Index

“The Crystal Coffin: Virtual China Pavilion”

"Crystal Coffin" in Piazza San Marco

"Crystal Coffin" in the Giardini

The augmentation is inspired by the crystal coffin displayed in Mausoleum of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square since 1977, a year after Mao’s death. In the twenty first century, while China has been transforming itself into a modern society in many ways and gaining more influences economically and politically around the globe, Mao’s crystal coffin, the immortal-looking shell, remains exist as a symbol of authoritarian ruling system. During spring 2011, a crackdown on dissent – including detaining many intellectuals and members of religious group – followed by distinct signs of revival of Maoist policies, has left people baffled about the future direction of  China. We therefore use Crystal Coffin of Mao as main body of the virtual China Pavilion, which is topped with a tower and roof with ancient Chinese looking,  as regulated by Ministry of Construction of China: architectural ‘designs must reflect traditional Chinese building styles.



"Crystal Coffin" by Lily & Honglei, in the Piazza San Marco, Venice. June 2, 2011.


“Crystal Coffin” by Lily & Honglei,  In front of the main pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale, International Art Exhibition, ILLUMInations, Giardini, Venice. June 2, 2011.

Lily & Honglei (Xiying Yang, Honglei Li) work as a new media artist team. Both coming from Beijing, China, they currently work and live in New York. Their projects utilize traditional painting techniques and digital imaging technologies including animation and virtual reality, to construct an in-between space reflecting Chinese cultural heritages and current social issues in the context of globalization.

Lily & Honglei both studied fine arts in China and continued their education in art in the States. Lily Xiying Yang received Master of Fine Arts degree in Digital Media from College of Visual and Performing Arts at University of Massachusetts, and taught Digital Media graduate program at Emerson College in Boston. Honglei Li earned his MFA degree in Painting from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he also taught fine arts undergraduate program. Lily & Honglei currently work as independent artists in New York City.

One Response to “Lily and Honglei @ Venice Biennial 2011”

  1. BryanMcFarlane Says:

    I am moved and stunned by your powerful ‘visual’ idea expressed conceptually: To critique an aspect of China that certainly needs revisiting, as China evolves as an economic giant. This issue certainly needs to be address in the light of a majour contemporary artist who have dissappeared recently. What does that tell us about the future?

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