Taiwanese sculptor Kang Mu-xiang, who is known for his preference for unconventional materials, will be speaking in New York in a lecture titled "Path to Life - A Steel Cable Connecting the World” on May 18.
Born in Miaoli County in 1961, Kang was practicing traditional woodcarving by age 13 and soon became a respected artisan in his chosen field. He became especially renowned for his combination of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary aesthetics, all strung together by a strong reverence for nature.
Following 2002, in which he had a mediated breakthrough by staying a full year on the uninhabited isle of Turtle Island, Kang accepted an invitation from Taipei 101 to reuse and transform discarded steel cables from the skyscraper's elevators in 2013. The ensuing "Infinite Life” became a tribute to both environmental awareness and Kang's perseverance.
Elevator cables are made from tightly wounded steel wires that are exceptionally difficult to bend, let alone shape into sculptures. "I first had to clean the used cables with chemicals before molding them into the shape I desired,” he explained. "I suffered burns, eye injuries, and muscle strains and I was exposed to high levels of dioxins as a result of working with a welder for long periods.”
"Nevertheless, giving up a portion of my short life in exchange for a piece of eternal art, a bequest to future generations, was all worthwhile,” Kang added. "The cables carried 6.6 million visitors during their six years of operation, so there seemed to be millions of lives wound up in them. That thought really intrigued me.”
On May 18, Kang will share the story of his art journey as well as the latest challenges of using discarded elevator cables, and expand on his take on East Asian philos that shape his creations.
More information on the artist can be found here.
‘Path to Life—A Steel Cable Connecting the World'