Unveiling 'Ling Zhi Helicopters' - Huang Yong Ping

Sunday 4 October 2020
Location: the top of the Rijswijkse Landingslaan, Leidschenveen-Ypenburg

Unveiling by: The Hague Robert van Asten

View facebook album of the unveiling

On Sunday 4 October 2020 the iconic artwork Ling Zhi Helicopters by the late Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping was unveiled in city district Leidschenveen-Ypenburg, in the presence of his widow Shen Yuan and his daughter.

With this work of art the city of The Hague realizes an ambitious project and adds an iconic work of art to its impressive collection of art in public space, which also includes a.o. the Celestial Vault by James Turrell, Park in the Water by Vito Acconci and The Sculpture Gallery by P. Struycken. The new monumental work of art is located on the site of the former Ypenburg airport and marks the creation of the city district Leidschenveen-Ypenburg.

In 2016 the city of The Hague commissioned a work of art in public space in order to celebrate the completion of the newly developed city district Leidschenveen-Ypenburg. During the selection procedure, the city was advised by a committee of local inhabitants and art experts, under the guidance of art center Stroom Den Haag. They chose the design of Huang Yong Ping, because Ling Zhi Helicopters connects the history of the location and the creation of the city district in a highly poetic way. The artist chose the location of the top of the Rijswijkse Landingslaan (the former landing strip of the local airport) for an intriguing and gigantic group of three 'mushroom helicopters'. On the lawn three huge Ling Zhi mushrooms of respectively 5.5 m., 6.8 m. and 6.3 m. high will be erected. When the wind is blowing the 'hats' will gently turn the rotor blades, making it look as if the work has just landed there. From 1936 until 1987 this location was the site of airport Ypenburg. Today it is a lively neighborhood on a historic site that is still very much alive in the memory of many local residents. The monumental work of art thus represents the powerful synthesis of retrospection and progress..

Ling Zhi
Ling Zhi is the name of a small mushroom that grows in China on old trees and in the mountains. In traditional Chinese medicine and according to the Taoist belief, the Ling Zhi mushroom is a medicine to ensure a very long life. Huang Yong Ping decided to enlarge three specimens of this type of mushroom. Unfortunately he himself died prematurely and unexpectedly, but as a legacy he left the city of The Hague a beautiful work of art that depicts a long (and enriched) life.

A unique production process
The monumental scale of Ling Zhi Helicopters called for a completely new production process, combining innovative and artisanal techniques, from 3d scans and foam processing to hammering copper. The artwork was produced and initiated in the Netherlands. The company Anything is Possible in Abcoude is responsible for the production and technical advice. Shortly before his death Huang Yong Ping visited Abcoude and was full of praise for the way his work was produced. In consultation with his widow, Shen Yuan (herself a sculptor), the artwork was completed according to the exact specifications of Huang Yong Ping.

Huang Yong Ping
Huang Yong Ping (1954-2019) was a French-Chinese artist who moved to Europe in the late 1980s. He lived and worked in Paris, where he died unexpectedly in the fall of last year. Ling Zhi Helicopters, which was already nearing completion, is one of his last designs.
Huang Yong Ping is considered one of the foremost artists of the Chinese avant-garde. Internationally acclaimed for his inventiveness and boundless imagination, he succeeded in connecting Eastern and Western art traditions in his work. His monumental installations are impressive not only as works of art, but also because of their astute view of today's world and our place in the history.
Until the mid-1980s he was a member of the Xiamen Dada movement, which organized happenings, modeled after those of Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. In 1989 he was invited to take part in Magiciens de la Terre, the legendary exhibition dedicated to non-western art in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. After the massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, he decided to stay in France. In 1996 his work was part of the European art event Manifesta in Rotterdam and in 1997 he participated in Skulptur Projekte in Münster. He officially became a French citizen in 1999. In that same year and in 2009 he represented France at the Venice Biennale. His work was part of a.o. the exhibitions Monumenta (Grand Palais, Paris, 2016), and Art and China after 1989: The Theater of the world (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2017), and is included in many leading, international art collections. In the Netherlands his work The overturned tomb (1994) is part of the sculpture park of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.

The artwork Ling Zhi Helicopters was created in collaboration with Project Bureau Ypenburg, the Leidschenveen Development Agency, the municipality of The Hague and Stroom Den Haag. With special thanks to: Anything is Possible, Shen Yuan and Huang Yan.

Unveiling Ling Zhi Helicopters, 4 October 2020
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Unveiling Ling Zhi Helicopters, 4 October 2020
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Unveiling Ling Zhi Helicopters, 4 October 2020
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Huang Yong Ping visits the production in Abcoude
photo: Stroom Den Haag
'Ling Zhi Helicopters', production process in Abcoude
photo: Stroom Den Haag