The myth of the giant squid - David Zink Yi's Untitled (Architeuthis), 2013

Johann König
Feb 3, 2014 4:49PM

The giant squid of the genus Architeuthis live in great depths, and for a long time they were merely mythical creatures—despite and because of their sustained presence in the collective consciousness through stories like Jules Verne’s novel “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, or more recently the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Only in the 19th century did the first specimens wash ashore, confirming earlier reports of their existence. There is still no final certainty regarding the size that they can reach. Adult specimens, including their two tentacles, probably grow to a length of no more than 10 to 14 meters. 

David Zink Yi, born in Lima in 1973, with Peruvian, Chinese and German roots, shows the creature in the state of its death as a giant washed ashore, with its corpse convincingly rendered in its elastic softness, pressed flat onto the ground by gravity. In an elaborated glazing technique, using a copper and lead coating to create an iridescent surface, the sculpture is presented as a grotesque gem that liaises between the spheres of the dead and the living in the sense of a sepulchral sculpture. Its enthralling effect is also due to the surrounding puddle that looks like ink, but is made of colored syrup and keeps the viewer at a distance. It marks a boundary in which the sphere of both land and sea, and life and death meet. Originally, the liquid was not created by the artist with a narrative in mind, but to provide protection for the fragile ceramics in highly frequented exhibition settings, but it forcefully evokes the giant squid’s origin in the depths of the sea, with its lifeblood seeping from its body. Compared to the naturalism of a pitiful death outside of its natural habitat, David Zink Yi’s ceramic sculpture makes its presence felt with alchemical and mythological association spaces that the presentation of the creature releases in the context of art.  

excerpt from: Marc Wellmann: David Zink Yi. In: Bios. Concepts of life in contemporary sculpture. Edited by Marc Wellmann, Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin, 2012, pp 98-101.

Johann König