Chinese artist and beekeeper Ren Ri collaborates with the stinging, black-and-yellow insects to create sculptures catalyzed by natural processes. The artist builds geometric, plastic forms and plants the queen bee in the center before introducing the rest of the hive. The bees naturally build their habitat around the wooden sticks inside of structure, creating organic, irregular shapes that contrast with the pristine plastic prisms that encase them.
Though the artist explained that his reason for working with bees was to remove his own subjectivity, he rotates the plastic polyhedrons every seven days (a deliberate biblical reference) to alter the growth of the honeycombs. The sculptures are part of Ren’s ongoing series “Yuansu,” which involves other bee-related projects, such as a performance art piece where he allows bees to sting his face as well as a map series made of bees wax. Throughout “Yuansu,” Ren investigates the relationship between humans and bees — a pertinent topic as the declining bee population threatens to have a devastating impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.
Photos by Alessando De Toni.