Sun Yuan/Peng Yu : The day an angel fell from the sky (2008)
The day an Angel fell from the sky (2008)
At a time where it is more challenging than ever to decipher between the domains of real and fake on the internet, the story of 𝘈𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘭 is more than apt. In 2008, celebrated Chinese conceptual artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu created a disturbingly life-like sculpture of their adaptation of an angel, perfected with wings covered in flesh and hyper-realistic skin. The sculpture would be displayed at the Saatchi in London and various other galleries, though 7 years later it would send the internet into a frenzy in mid-2015.
Sun and Peng are life-long collaborators, going to high-school together and attending the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts with one another, where they studied oil painting. They quickly rose in the ranks of Chinese artists following a co-sign by the great Ai Wei Wei in 2000, China’s most globally celebrated artist. It was their 2008 work though, 𝘈𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘭, that would thrust the duo’s eccentrically life-like style into the mainstream eye. Using silica gel, fibreglass, stainless steal & mesh, Sun & Peng created a true to life model of an angel that fooled an embarrassing portion of western media. The Chinese artists have also been famously disputed for using materials like human fat tissue and baby cadavers in their envelope-pushing displays. Though the piece was initially created and displayed in 2008, the internet has gotten quite the face-lift since then. So when photos of the newest installation of the piece in Beijing surfaced online in 2015, western social media somehow misconstrued the story into a biblical miracle of sorts. Multiple entities reported that an angel had fell from the sky (from varying locations from London to Texas) and was being “covered up” by local authorities. You really can’t believe everything (or anything?) you read on this app.
The 2015 𝘈𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘭 misconception is an interesting reminder of how gullible we’ve became under the false sense of credibility that social media often manifests.