past exhibitions

Xu Bing


A Home Away From Home at the North Dakota Museum of Art A Book From Sky installed in the North Dakota Museum of Art, Summer 1993.
The artist invented 4,000 make-believe Chinese characters, the number it takes to communicate in ordinary Chinese life. He printed them in the three traditional forms of passing on knowledge in China: The sutra, the wall text and the traditionally bound book. The only thing a Chinese speaking person could understand in the whole installation are the ten numbers used in local elections, which the artist used to number the books. The artist conveys through this work his belief that unless one can vote the huge intellectual tradition of China means nothing.

Xu Bing is one of China's most important artists identified with Beijing's New Wave of the late eighties. In March of 1989 he exhibited A Book From Sky in the Beijing Art Gallery to great popular and critical acclaim. Three months later he was vilified for his "nonsensical art." In response he decided to make a monumental installation based upon the most nonsensical act ever embarked upon by man: the Great Wall of China. For a month eighteen peasants and students assisted him as he made a rubbing of the Great Wall. A year later he mounted it on scrolls in the tradition of Chinese painting, and installed it in the North Dakota Museum of Art, Summer 1993.