A new sculpture in Xinjiang which bears more than a passing resemblance to a famous landmark in Chicago dubbed “The Bean” has once again raised questions about the apparent shamelessness of China’s copycat culture.
Chinese media yesterday published images of a blob-like, stainless steel structure currently being built in Karamay. The “Big Oil Bubble” looks so much like “Cloud Gate“, a reflective, bean-shaped tourist magnet located in Chicago’s Millennium Park, that it could’ve been created by the same artist.
Clair Voon of Hyper Allergic has actually speculated that this may be the case, suggesting that “Cloud Gate” artist Anish Kapoor has “quietly been receiving commissions from China” to build another structure in the likeness of his original. As of now, the artist behind the “Oil Bubble” has not been identified.
The bubble, surrounded by various, smaller-sized bubbles, is located at the site of the first oil well in Karamay, the name of which means “black oil” in the Uyghur language. One of the most notable, some may say tackiest, differences between the “Oil Bubble” and “The Bean” would probably be the rave-like LED lights installed beneath it.
Shanzai buildings are hardly a new trend in China. Aside from blatantly ripping off famous architectural sites in Dubai, Egypt, Sydney and Paris, some places in China have even rolled out fake versions of Chinese landmarks in an attempt to attract tourists. That includes a Great Wall in Wuhan, a duplicated Tianamen in Shanghai and a fake Temple of Heaven, which also serves as a “luxury cemetery”.
A proud Chicagoan and writer for Time Out Chicago has deemed the sculpture a Grade-A Knockoff, but seems to think that it doesn’t matter too much because the original far exceeds Karamay’s recent installment.
“Chicago’s Cloud Gate was completed in 2006, and it took less than a decade for a Chinese oil town to completely rip it off,” the Time Out article said.
“In any case, Cloud Gate is definitely better than Karamay’s ‘oil bubble,’ and Chicagoans should be proud that they have a piece of public art that’s deemed worthy of replication.”
[Images via Sina]