A Consideration of Golden Apples
This work was created as part of an exhibition held in Beijing on the day before China's National Day celebrations in October 2002. The event was partially sponsored by Qixia municipality in Shandong province, an area famous for apple cultivation, thus inspiring Xu Bing to make apples the central element of the piece.
The artist used the majority of his materials budget to purchase three tons of apples to be distributed to the working people of Beijing as National Day gifts. Three large trucks, festooned with banners reading ''Golden Apples Send Warm Greetings'' and ''Best Wishes to the Workers of the Capital on National Day,'' traveled through several working-class areas of Beijing and distributed free apples to the people. A television broadcast van followed the action, broadcasting it live onto ten large television sets installed at various points in the exhibition venue. Interspersed throughout this live broadcast were segments taken from old propaganda films of Chairman Mao distributing mangos as gifts to workers in Beijing.
In this work the artist appropriates the concept of ''socialist consideration'' or ''compassion''(shehui juyi wenqing) embedded in the collective memory of a whole generation of Chinese for the purposes of artistic expression. Taking as his basis both the ongoing and the historical changes in virtually every class of Chinese society, Xu seeks to demonstrate that the transformation of Chinese society is not merely one of surface, but of deepest substance.
Location: Guangzhou, China
The idea for this installation came from a newspaper article about peasants in Southern China who disguised normal horses as zebras to attract tourism. Xu Bing saw how this story exemplifies the kind of creativity and intelligence brought forth by recent developments in China's economic policies. The installation itself merely re-creates this borrowed wisdom of the masses. Similar to Xu Bing's language-based works, this project deals with the concept of masks. The zebras appear in camouflage, so while the viewer encounters a familiar face, what is perceived is inconsistent with its reality.
Living Word 2
Installation view at Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 2002
Work in progress, New York, 2002
Materials: Mixed media; plastics, laser inscriptions and spray paint
Location: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA