Video: Massive robotic Confucius in China

Video: Massive robotic Confucius in China

Head to the Shanghai Bund for a chat with a giant breathing Confucius

You are not hallucinating -- Confucius's heart is beating. Find this statue at Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum.

Confucianism is still present in the fast-paced mega city of Shanghai. Well, in some form.

An enormous “breathing” bust of Confucius has been erected for Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s (张洹) ongoing art exhibition, "Q Confucius" (问孔子), at the Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum.

Occupying the entire second floor, the body of the 10-meter tall bust is made of silica-gel, his hair of steel wire, and the whole contraption is as eerie as any uncanny-valley statue.

One can feel the rhythm of the philosopher’s breathing by the rise and fall of his chest.

The mechanical statue is a collaboration between 47-year-old Zhang Huan and Er Baorui (尔宝瑞), a renowned Chinese wax figure artist, who has crafted statues for Chinese government officials including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zeming. 

According to the exhibition brochure, Confucius’s looks are based on “Portrait of Confucius at Leisure,” an anonymous painting dating back to the Ming Dynasty. 

Q Confucius

The exhibition aims to “ask questions about Confucius, [and to] examine his theories in a contemporary context,” said exhibition curator Fumio Nanjo, who is the director of Mori Art Museum.

But for young Shanghainese, the peaceful statue also serves as a way to escape the bustling city and to reflect on modern life.

“I’d like to know what he would do on Weibo,” said Zhen Tao, a 20-something volunteer at the museum. “Would he still travel to different kingdoms to study had he got modern technology?”

Zhang, the museum’s tour guide, said she found this exhibition hall very helpful for her to recite text books and prepare for exams because it was so tranquil.

“After a while, you’d really consider [the Confucius statue] a knowledgeable elder,” added Zhang.

Other highlights

The bust is one of the seven art pieces in Zhang Huan’s exhibition.

Other pieces include a portrait of Confucius printed on a seven-square-meter cowhide and a (random but impressive) portrait of Jesus and the apostles at the last supper, painted solely with incense ash.

The exhibition runs till January 29. Guided tours start at 2 p.m. every Sunday.

The museum will close from January 22-24 for Spring Festival.

More on CNNGo: Best art galleries in Shanghai

Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum (上海外滩美术馆)
20 Huqiu Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu
虎丘路20号, 近北京东路
+86 21 3310 9985
Tuesday-Wednesday, Sunday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Admission: RMB 15