Chinese Cryptozoology

Shen Shaomin
Unknown Creature – Three Headed Monster, 2002

shen shaomin three headed monster

Shen Shaomin adopts the role of being anthropologist, scientist, and author of his own fabricated mythologies. Constructed from real animal bones, his sculptures collectively create a bestiary of fictional creatures that are wondrous, frightening, and strange. Reminiscent of Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, Shen’s absurd assemblages exude an ancient wisdom, authenticating the magic of fable and folklore, while alluding to contemporary issues of genetic modification, consequence of environmental threat, and concepts of the alien and exotic.

In pieces such as Three Headed Monster and Mosquito, the skeletal remains of ‘extinct’ creatures are presented with the validity of museum display. Their colossal scale reinforces their imagined prehistoric origin as Jurassic curiosities and spiritual totems. Assembled from genuine ossified animal parts, his creatures are simultaneously familiar and perplexing, indicating a warped and uncomfortable process of evolution. Often carving into his surfaces, Shen adorns his creations with scrimshaw, further entwining humanistic reference into his disturbing zoological evidence.

Unknown Creature – Mosquito, 2002

shen shaomin mosquito


3 Responses to “Chinese Cryptozoology”

  1. Mark Says:

    Very nice! Very disturbing!

    Also: This reminds me of the skeletal Looney Tunes I saw at the Biennale di Venezia two years ago.

  2. Maarten Says:

    Thanks for the reply. Do you remember who the artist was?

  3. Mark Says:

    Yes, I looked it up. The artist is the Korean based Hyungkoo Lee.

    For an overview of the works in the pavillion check out the website of the Korean pavillion:

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