Now that she has a new artwork up for auction, the time seems right to look back on some of contemporary artist Red Hong Yi’s creative wonders.
By SOFIA SHAMSUNAHAR
Everyone’s been talking about Red Hong Yi recently. The Sabah-born contemporary artist was put under the spotlight in April 2021, when her world map created by 50,000 matchsticks was set on fire and ended up on the cover of Time Magazine. The piece was a conversation starter, and now Red is back on our radar with a new work of art called “Doge To The Moon” which she dropped on June 27.
Known for having the knack of building larger images through hundreds of small objects, Red has gone in a different direction with her new piece. After recognising how banks overprinting money can lead to inflation and seeing how the cryptocurrency “meme coin” value has been soaring, Red decided to print her own money.
“Doge to the Moon” is Red’s first in her series “Memebank”. Wanting to create something that reflected the times millennials were going through, Red created a comical piece that replaced Chairman Mao on the Yuan note with the viral internet meme “Doge”, a Shiba Inu dog. (Don’t know what a Dogecoin is? It’s a cryptocurrency that started out as a joke in 2013 but has skyrocketed into the billions).
Red shared her and her team’s creative process in the video that’s raked up 39k views on Facebook in a day!
The artist details how she designed the piece and etched it into a large copper plate with a laser cutter. Despite Red finding it tricky to forge a bank note for the piece (“I thought forging a bank note would be easy! But that was pretty stupid of me” she says in the video), once the piece was inked and printed, she seems pretty pleased as the paper is pulled away from its stencil, showcasing an intricate Doge bank note.
Netizens have been equally impressed. “Nice job! Nice work on your NFT!” and “Meme bank employees are so talented” commenters on her video said. The piece is being auctioned on Binance NFT at a current bid of 0.695 ETH, the cryptocurrency worth of US$1,393.32. Winners of the auction will receive the NFT (ownership of the digital art piece) and the actual copper plate.
Over the years Red has shared a few other videos tracing how she creates her works of art. These process videos are artworks in their own right, and so well received by the global online audience. If you haven’t already seen her in action, here are some highlights to savour:
In 2012, Red posted a time lapse painting of NBA superstar Yao Ming with a basketball and red paint. We’re in awe as we watch the artist freehand the piece. We see Red dribble the ball to fill out spaces with paint, and create shading with how much paint she coats the ball with. We also have a chance to see Red’s playful personality, performing a little skit in the beginning of the video.
Here, Red created a portrait of Chinese film director Zhang Yimou with socks and pins. The piece, filmed in a cosy alleyway in an old residential compound in Shanghai, was inspired by how locals hang their laundry on bamboo sticks through windows. Those passing by and neighbours would offer Red a hand building the piece, creating a communal installation.
In 2014, Red did a video with the iconic Jackie Chan. Always adding a comical element to her videos, the piece begins with her and Chan having a fight with chopsticks over a meal. Later on, we see the artist create a giant portrait of Chan through bundles of chopsticks. The piece is created by having 64,000 chopsticks hung by steel cables on a large frame. Red constructs the piece by hanging one strand of chopstick bundles and cable at a time. The art installation celebrates Chan’s 60th birthday, and is a tribute to his life and his cultural significance.
In 2016, Red did a mural painting with celery printing. She said that she tapped into her inner child by experimenting with tools that she used as a kid in art class. She “painted” a bear because she was once afraid of being clawed by a circus bear and said that the bear represents the fear she has whenever she pushes herself to create something new. This mural was done at Five Plus Smoothie on Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne.
What’s your favourite Red Hong Yi video?