Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head
The Gao Brothers, China
UPDATE March 11, 2022:
The sculpture made the journey from Vancouver to San Antonio, Texas, where it is located next to the Texas Public Radio station near Commerce Street in the downtown district. San Antonio developer James Lifschutz arranged with the Gao Brothers and Houston’s Deborah Colton Gallery for the artwork to go to San Antonio to join the revitalization of the Zona Cultural, the city’s birthplace and home to many of the city’s most historic and iconic locations and institutions.
Title: Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head
Artists: Gao Zhen (b. 1956, China) and Gao Qiang (b. 1962, China)
Medium: Stainless steel
Dimensions (H x W x D): 648 × 599 × 419 cm (255 x 236 x 165 inches)
Location during the Vancouver Biennale’s 2009-2011 exhibition: Pork Chop Park in Richmond, British Columbia
The artwork titled Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head is part of a series of sculptures by the Gao Brothers depicting the image of the Chinese ruler Mao Zedong, titled Lady Mao. This massive stainless steel sculpture features two iconic historical figures: Chairman Mao as a diminutive Miss Mao delicately balancing on the head of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist.
Having chosen to play the role of critic, the Gao Brothers employ satire to reference the political environment of their homeland. The sculpture can be read as a commentary on the relationship between the two leaders and their ideologies and a reflection on the current nostalgic attitude toward Mao. The artists themselves have referred to the artwork as a “political narrative” that questions the two figures’ relative stature.
The Gao Brothers made their Canadian debut with this sculpture, which was installed in Richmond, British Columbia, for the Vancouver Biennale’s 2009-2011 open-air exhibition.