An elephant can hit a top speed of around 24 miles per hour running, but the beast in Huang Yong Ping’s upcoming exhibition didn’t reach anywhere near that when it traveled from the Walker loading dock to Gallery 6 on September 30. Here’s a look at the journey of the 2,000-pound elephant (which is really a replica created out of concrete, steel, and painted animal skins).
After it was placed in the gallery, the elephant was conserved by a local taxidermist, and the sculpture, dubbed 11 June 2002–The Nightmare of George V (2002), was completed: a replica of a tiger attacking a wicker seat was set in place. As Artforum wrote of the piece as it appeared in the 26th Sao Paulo Bienal:
The title identifies the hunter as King George V of England. Huang explains that in 1911 the king, while hunting in Nepal, killed four tigers in three days, a remarkable feat. One of the tigers attacked the king, and he donated this specimen to a museum in Bristol, where Huang found it. In Paris the artist located preserved animals from other treks. He attached to a wicker howdah on the elephant’s back a tiger in the documented position of attack, but he replaced the royal howdah–an emblem of empire–with the sort used to protect well-heeled tourists. The tableau looks back to the approaching end of the colonial period.
Here’s what it looks like today: