Event Title

A Contemporary Spin on Tradition: Xu Bing's Cultural Exploration

Location

CSU 201

Start Date

4-4-2011 9:00 AM

End Date

4-4-2011 10:30 AM

Student's Major

Art

Student's College

Arts and Humanities

Mentor's Name

Alisa Eimen

Mentor's Department

Art

Mentor's College

Arts and Humanities

Description

This paper analyzed the artwork of Xu Bing and his exploration of cultural values, specifically of language in China. Chinese is one of the oldest written languages of the world, with forms established by 1000CE. One of the purposes of classical Chinese calligraphy was self expression. The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ‗70s brought a shift to this tradition by using large characters as propaganda. Xu Bing uses prominent symbols of culture and language, stemming from the classical teaching of his parents and his work experience during the Cultural Revolution, to convey views of society, as well as to challenge them. In ―The Book from the Sky‖ he presents a confronting image of Chinese language in classical forms of scrolls and single sheets, which seems authentic but is in fact made with characters invented by the artist. The work shuns the idea of any meaning through reading and portrays the struggle of communication and keeping traditions alive. My paper argues that Xu Bing‘s artwork demonstrates how powerful cultural tradition can be in contemporary art. Culture provides the audience with easily recognized symbols and creates restrictions on the interpretation of the art.

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Apr 4th, 9:00 AM Apr 4th, 10:30 AM

A Contemporary Spin on Tradition: Xu Bing's Cultural Exploration

CSU 201

This paper analyzed the artwork of Xu Bing and his exploration of cultural values, specifically of language in China. Chinese is one of the oldest written languages of the world, with forms established by 1000CE. One of the purposes of classical Chinese calligraphy was self expression. The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ‗70s brought a shift to this tradition by using large characters as propaganda. Xu Bing uses prominent symbols of culture and language, stemming from the classical teaching of his parents and his work experience during the Cultural Revolution, to convey views of society, as well as to challenge them. In ―The Book from the Sky‖ he presents a confronting image of Chinese language in classical forms of scrolls and single sheets, which seems authentic but is in fact made with characters invented by the artist. The work shuns the idea of any meaning through reading and portrays the struggle of communication and keeping traditions alive. My paper argues that Xu Bing‘s artwork demonstrates how powerful cultural tradition can be in contemporary art. Culture provides the audience with easily recognized symbols and creates restrictions on the interpretation of the art.

Recommended Citation

Obermeyer-Kolb, Karen. "A Contemporary Spin on Tradition: Xu Bing's Cultural Exploration." Undergraduate Research Symposium, Mankato, MN, April 4, 2011.
http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/urs/2011/oral-session-01/5