A permanent—and unauthorised—installation of falling rain similar to the internationally acclaimed Rain Room created by the design collective Random International is being installed in Shanghai.
The fake work opens this month as part of a new $15m attraction called Jiajiale Dream Park, in the city’s north-west.
The theme park’s Magic Rain Zone will charge visitors around $6, according to the website ShanghaiWow. The park will also include an optical illusion room that recalls Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession installation of red-and-white inflatable sculptures, as well as the Japanese artist’s Infinity Rooms and a hall of mirrors depicting Van Gogh’s Starry Night, among other interactive offerings. Since an authentic version of Random International’s Rain Room was displayed at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai in late 2015, imitations have popped up across China. There were two in Shanghai when the real work was first seen in the city and further versions, often linked to property developments, have been displayed in Beijing, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Yinchuan and Xining.
It’s raining Rain Rooms in China
“Given that we don’t speak or read Chinese, it’s a bit hard to tell how many are out there, but we reckon there have been around eight to ten attempts to rip off the work by now,” says Hannes Koch, a co-founder of Random International. “And that’s not including the reported Rain Room rental agency, which used everything from our name to our graphics and exhibition history and even copied the architecture.”
Several online companies in China offer rentals of imitation Rain Rooms. One of them is the Shanghai Binghuan Cultural Communication Company. Its website shows 12 different set-ups under the name Yu Wu, Rain Room’s official Chinese name. Another company has linked its copy of the installation to a promotion for the carmaker Buick.
“Renting rain zones is brisk business,” says a spokeswoman for Binghuan. “It requires around 140 sq. m to 200 sq. m to install, and the rental price depends on the number of days.” She confirmed that the installation’s concept is the same as that of the original Rain Room, but said that the version offered by her company is called Yu Jing (rain zone).
Koch dismisses these attempts to copy his group’s work. The Chinese versions have been “of shockingly inferior quality”, he says, adding that Random International is concerned about potential safety risks. “We spent significant time and resources to develop a safe way of making Rain Rooms. It will be important to make the Chinese authorities aware of the health and safety risks that are involved with improperly running a Rain Zone or Magical Rain Area. Legionella [disease-causing bacteria that thrive in water systems]… are a lethal threat to the elderly and children in particular.” A spokeswoman for the Jiajiale theme park declined to comment on copyright and safety issues. “I think it’s offensive to say our [Magic Rain Zone] is a copy if you haven’t visited the Dream Park and just judge it based on pictures from the internet,” she said.
Meanwhile, Random International is assessing whether the park has violated its intellectual property rights or made improper use of images or inaccurate claims about the provenance and exhibition history of the fake installation. “We are following this up with our partners at the Pace Gallery and the Yuz Museum,” Koch says.