Ni Youyu’s Brooklyn Galaxy consists of sixty-six coins from different nations, each hammered flat and ornamented with a miniature ink painting created by the artist, using a magnifying glass. It is inspired by Chinese cosmology and ancient star charts, reinterpreted with new materials and meanings. The artist’s Galaxy installations are a critique of consumerism and the global commodification of art; in Chinese, the word for “galaxy” translates as “silver river” (yin he), and the expression “to pound money” (za qian) can refer to a businessman who spends prolifically to make a fast profit.
This work was commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum for the new galleries of Chinese art. Some of the coins in this unique work have images of landscapes reminiscent of the Song (960–1279) or Yuan (1279–1368) dynasties: birds with lush feathers, vibrant flowers, and scholar’s rocks. On others, Ni has painted images of some of the masterworks from the Museum’s collection of historical Chinese art. Viewers are invited to match the coins from Ni’s galaxy with the objects on display in the adjacent gallery for the Arts of China.
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Bequest of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, by exchange and Designated Purchase Fund
© Ni Youyu
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Ni Youyu (Chinese, born 1984). Brooklyn Galaxy, 2014. Metal, pigment Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, by exchange and Designated Purchase Fund, 2019.9. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 2019.9_overall_PS11.jpg)
overall, 2019.9_overall_PS11.jpg., 2019
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Sixty-five flattened coins painted with miniature images, adhered directly to a wall in a prescribed arrangement to mimick a galaxy. The coin images range from traditional Chinese motifs drawn from Chinese painting, to objects from the Brooklyn Museum's collection of traditional Chinese art.
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