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"the realities of cabbage"
June 24, 2014 6:09 AM   Subscribe

Artist Walks A Cabbage In Public To Question How Society Value Things In a project that started since year 2000, Chinese artist Han Bing has documented a series of photographs that see him walking a cabbage on a leash in public.
posted by Fizz (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm all for companion vegetables, but tying a tender brassica up to a metal fucking chain, wow, how irresponsible can you get
posted by threeants at 6:15 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


If I had a pet cabbage I would name it Kimchi
posted by oulipian at 6:25 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]


Well, the symbol of a Chinese subsistence diet being chained to an indifferent controller may be apt.
posted by gilrain at 6:26 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


This is an elegant demonstration of Cole's Law.
posted by fairmettle at 6:32 AM on June 24 [28 favorites]


Related: "They are better than dogs as they don’t bark, or start fights with other cabbages, it doesn’t even need feeding, or leave a mess on the pavement."
posted by oulipian at 6:36 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


Walking the lobster (turns out to be apocryphal).
posted by stbalbach at 6:40 AM on June 24


Soccer:Football::Bok Choy:Cabbage (kind of)
posted by kozad at 6:42 AM on June 24


i actually wikipedia'd coles law omg
posted by lalochezia at 7:21 AM on June 24 [9 favorites]


Unless the cabbage has a name, you are just dragging around a piece of produce.

Wavy Gravy shows how its done with "Saul Bass", a shtick of his from at least '98. I don't know if Saul is supposed to represent anything other than Wavy's eccentricities (though it does help you pick him out a bit easier, so maybe that).
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:22 AM on June 24


Am I supposed to consider this legitimate art or bullshit art? Because if the goal is to get people to "question how society values things," I suspect it's a failure. I imagine it mostly succeeds at getting people to "question why some lunatic is dragging around a cabbage."
posted by chasing at 7:30 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


Like an unfortunately large amount of art whose stated goal is to "provoke a debate about X", the art itself doesn't provoke debate. The artist's statement, if lucky, does. So if his goal is to make some sort of cool aesthetic pieces, then more power to him. But if his goal is actually, as he claims, to "provoke a debate", he'd accomplish his goal far faster and more effectively by skipping the 14 year photo project and just posting his statement online.
posted by Bugbread at 7:40 AM on June 24


oulipian: Related: "They are better than dogs as they don’t bark, or start fights with other cabbages, it doesn’t even need feeding, or leave a mess on the pavement."

Best tagline of the day: Walking a cabbage is better than walking a dog because they don’t bark, according to someone who has decided to do just that.

Good thing you clarified who said that, otherwise the readers might think you made the whole thing up.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


That cabbage would learn to heel better if its handler switched to an EasyWalk Harness.

(I think the project might have more resonance if the cabbage were placed in a wider variety of contexts in which it could replace modern status markers in addition to well cared for pet animals (for example, in the image under "series" in the FPP, among the onlookers there's a May-December couple striding arm-in-arm, which may be Businessman and Trophy Wife/Mistress -- so "cabbage in a pied a terre"?). But what do I know.)
posted by notyou at 7:48 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I did this last weekend, with a pineapple, at the Fremont Solstice Festival in Seattle, one of Seattle's bastions of art and weirdness. I didn't know that this artist existed until the day after I planned the art. Why? Because I love pineapple, and I buy whole ones. This strikes others as slightly weird as I bring the delicious spiky treat on to the bus and/or the Light Rail.

So, why not give people something to *really* stare at? Put a pineapple on a leash and collar, carry it around, and treat it like a literal pet.

Meet Fluffy. Fluffy is my pet pineapple. she loves her sparkly pink collar and hot pink, tiger striped leash. I got the breakaway collar, in case the pineapple bolts or gets stuck in a tree.

Here's Fluffy on the Monorail, which we took part of the way to get to the Festival. She loved it and had a great view!: Fluffy Rides the Monorail!

Fluffy and I found great seats for the parade, and she sat perched on that NO PARKING sawhorse for quite a while: Fluffy Watches a Parade!

Being a pineapple at a parade can be exhausting! Fluffy and I retreated to a coffee shop to enjoy some post-parade libations, and watching the crowds dissipate: Fluffy Has an Americano! (No, I didn't pour coffee on her). Some of the crowd didn't know how to react, but others got right into it - giving Fluffy pets and skritches by the pineapple crown. She was a very, very good pineapple - I am so proud of her. And a big hit!

(Technical note - I didn't drag the pineapple along the ground - instead, I held her off and on, for some 10 hours. A pineapple. On a leash. My arms were kind of scratched up and bruised afterwards! Next year, I'm using a mango.)
posted by spinifex23 at 7:49 AM on June 24 [9 favorites]


Shouldn't something you walk be able, I dunno, walk?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:51 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I'd be more impressed if it were a live, growing cabbage in a pot that he wheeled around after him. As it is, he's walking a cabbage corpse.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:59 AM on June 24 [8 favorites]


"It does not bark, and it knows the secrets of the soil."
posted by xil at 8:15 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


Still more lively than walking my cat was. We used to call it "going for a sit."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:36 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


blue_beetle: Shouldn't something you walk be able, I dunno, walk?

Who made you Grand Arbiter of What Can Be A Pet?

Silly comments aside, this appears to be more about the cultural divide than it is about pets. From the first link:
The artist explains his ‘performance’ on his website by stating that “a full stock of cabbage for the winter was once a symbol of material well-being in China, but nowadays the rich have cast it aside in favor of fancy restaurants where waste signifies status. Yet, for the poor and struggling, the realities of cabbage as a subsistence bottom line have not changed. What's changed is the value structure that dictates what—and who—is valuable or worthless in Chinese society”.
If you don't know about the cultural importance of cabbage, it just looks like a guy dragging some greenery around on a leash.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:42 AM on June 24


A little girl I knew years ago dragged around a small log on a rope, it was her pet dog. It did tricks and left messes. I guess it was a step up from an imaginary friend, at least everyone else could see it.
posted by mareli at 8:42 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I dread walking my cabbage. He has a tendency to mount other cabbages.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:54 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


Thinking about the Chinese cultural context for cabbage as a sign of security and wealth: he's also wasting the cabbage by just dragging it around until it's ruined and inedible, which I think is part of his point.
posted by rue72 at 8:55 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I don't get why people are so curmudgeonly about art. I thought it was cute and funny to see someone walking a cabbage. So, success! Yay art!
posted by threeants at 8:58 AM on June 24


I mean, personally I'm allergic, so I can only have of those hypoallergenic brussels sprouts around the house, but it's nice to live vicariously through these photos
posted by threeants at 9:00 AM on June 24


Without a little cabbage-wagon for it to ride in he's just dragging it and that's cruel.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:06 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


I have walked an honest-to-god cabbage, in public, no less, with the very friendly, if slightly awkward Han Bing. His greater point is something to do with carrying the comforts of home with you as the Chinese diaspora begins to leave the homeland in earnest for the first time since the 19th century. He also has a very nice series of photos of people posing holding red bricks that harkens back to propaganda associated with the "little red book," and poses the question of what price is being paid for China's rapid industrialization.

So yeah, you can say I read too much into this, but it's my take away, and I will say that if you do invite him to walk a cabbage in your town (which he will very gladly do) please be sure you can actually get fresh cabbages before you set your date (we had a spot of trouble with that) and he is quite fond of burritos so if there's a good veggie burrito stand nearby, expect him to want to eat there every dang day.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:08 AM on June 24 [7 favorites]


I dread walking my cabbage. He has a tendency to mount other cabbages.

Be a responsible pet owner! As Bob Barker says, "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed, neutered...or cored."
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:49 AM on June 24


If he wanted to demonstrate how context influences the value we place on material things, instead of taking it for a stroll, he should have filmed Jeff Beck smashing it up and throwing the bits into the audience at the Ricky Tik Club.

But you know, a lot of people don't bother about their friends in the vegetable kingdom. They think, "What can a person like myself say to a vegetable?" But the answer is simple, my friends! Just call, and tell 'em how you feel . . . and soon: a new rapport! You and your new little green and yellow buddies grooving together, visiting the beach together, worshipping together in the church of your choice!

For myself, I'm with Mister Doctor Perfesser Longhair:
I've been all around the world
To the gulf of Mexico,
And I ain't never seen no cabbage
With a collar and leash on it before
posted by Herodios at 10:46 AM on June 24


He also has a very nice series of photos of people posing holding red bricks

Underwritten by McDonalds, no doubt.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:51 AM on June 24


I didn't know they had Cabbage Patch Kids in China...har har har.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:40 PM on June 24


threeants: "I don't get why people are so curmudgeonly about art. I thought it was cute and funny to see someone walking a cabbage. So, success! Yay art!"

I think if that were it, people wouldn't be curmudgeonly. I think it's the "provoke a debate about" part that makes people roll their eyes.
posted by Bugbread at 3:44 PM on June 24


It's because I have a cabbage for a head, isn't it?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKaP0Y_4COE
posted by Suggestive_Bobcat at 8:11 PM on June 24


Put a pineapple on a leash and collar, carry it around, and treat it like a literal pet. [....]

Some of the crowd didn't know how to react, but others got right into it - giving Fluffy pets and skritches by the pineapple crown.


This is great. I like to think I'd be one of the people who petted the pineapple. Goooood pineapple.
posted by ladybird at 10:01 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


She was SO GOOD. One of the more surreal moments of an already surreal day was going into the local grocery store to use their washroom. (Yes, I bought something.) They had a beleaguered employee guarding and directing traffic. He also had a table where peoople had to put items like coffee cups, water bottles, and leashed pineapples. Which he admitted was the weirdest thing he had to babysit.

Afterwards, I came out. "Was she good?" I asked, serious.
"Oh yes. She didn't cause any messes or anything," he said, without even missing a beat.

Holy heck I love Seattle sometimes.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:57 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


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