Chinese artist throws away 1,000 pure gold rice grains against food waste, slammed by the public
Published: Oct 17, 2021 11:18 PM
Photo: Weibo account of Shanghai Morning Post

Photo: Weibo account of Shanghai Morning Post

By throwing away 1,000 pure gold rice grains into a river, a Chinese artist, who wanted to raise public awareness about food waste, found his behavior was not well received by the general public who called the performance "fake art and a waste of money."

The art performance was made in Shanghai by artist Yang Yexin who recently posted a video on social media where he throws away 1,000 grains of rice into the Huangpu River, city drains, dustbins and in the grass.

The rice grains Yang showed in the video were made of 500 grams of gold worth of over 200,000 yuan ($31,000), according to the video posted by Yang. He explained that the grains were made with 100 percent pure gold by a "jewelry store who made them in accordance with the actual size of each real rice grain".

Based on the profile on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo, Yang, owner of TianYuKong, a Chinese advertising company, has won several awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Before that, he worked at multinational advertising companies such as Ogilvy.

Though Yang described the artwork on Sina Weibo as a "sarcasm over food waste", the performance has drawn a quick rejection and attracted the fury of netizens who called him  "ostentatious" on social media.

People have vented their feelings with a series of comments. "For a man working in advertising agencies this is a perfect marketing stunt," wrote one netizen on Weibo who considered the performance as "fake art", adding that "it is better to support the areas hit by natural disasters and use the money to buy harvesters for those who lost their crops in floods."

"Why gold? For me it seems like he has made a joke about food waste by showing off  ostentatiously,  noted another netizen.

Despite the criticism, insiders praised Yang for coming up with professional ideas,saying that the public "is overreacting."

Tang Xiao, a contemporary sculpture artist based in Chengdu, Southwest China's Si-chuan Province, told the Global Times on Sunday that she believes many people have misunderstood Yang's message.

Apart from Yang's intention of drawing attention, "Yang's video simply reflects a social phenomenon and calls for people's attention to it. This is valuable as it has made the public aware of the food waste problem," said Tang.

Another artist from Beijing surnamed Li also disagreed with the idea that "throwing gold is a greater waste than throwing rice. People have the wrong impression that gold is more precious than rice, the thing that supports our life.  Many years ago when gold was not traded, rice was more precious."

A poll on Weibo has shown that 17,000 netizens agree that "throwing gold rice is a waste in itself and cannot draw attention on food waste." However, Yang carried on with his idea on social media. "I have received many attacks but I turn a blind eye on them," Yang said.