It is called Serpent d’Océan, but is not the skeleton of an animal that actually existed, in fact it’s a sculpture located in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, near Nantes, in correspondence with the estuary of the Loire river. The author is the artist Huang Yong Ping, of Chinese origins and French national, who used the traditional iconography of China’s mythological dragons to design the approximately 130-meters-long art monster. The artist completed the work in 2012, when was unveiled as part of the Estuaire art exhibition which invites international artists to create large-scale works using the environment surrounding the Loire River between Nantes to Saint-Nazaire.
The skeleton is made of aluminum and is continuously covered and discovered by the tide, as if it were a paleontological remnant that appears and disappears on the basis of natural cycles. The beast is posed in slithering movement despite being nothing more than bones, giving an unsettlingly lifelike quality. The curve of the backbone of the snake follows the shape of the nearby bridge of Saint Nazaire, harmonizing the insertion of the creature with the surrounding environment.
Despite being an immobile skeleton, the “Serpent d’Océan” conveys a pure sense of movement, in fact the term tail with a thin appendage seems to push the animal towards the water’s edge, and the variation of the level of the tides make the work of art illusorily “alive”. The work, thanks to its size, is visible also on the Google Maps satellites!
The message behind this opera it’s probably one of environmental nostalgia, as though man’s mistreatment of the oceans is killing not only its life, but its very wonder and fantasy.
A curiosity? Despite the 130 meters of the sculpture are very impressive, in 2016 Yong Ping overcame, creating a 240-meter snake, now at the Grand Palais in Paris!