Medium: media/found oil paintings, falsified magazine article
The title of this work refers to the Chinese name of a Manhattan street located on the Lower East Side. On this street, the artist salvaged a group of non-representational oil paintings from the garbage, providing the catalyst for this conceptual piece.
''Wu'' in Chinese has various meanings, including both ''misunderstanding'' and ''enlightenment'' in the Chan (Zen) sense. This dichotomy between understanding and misunderstanding is integral to ''Wu Street.'' Xu paired the salvaged paintings with a ''profoundly deep'' article by a critic interpreting the abstract paintings of the renowned artist Jonathan Lasker. Xu's intention was to demonstrate his feeling that the critic's opaque interpretation of Lasker's works could just as well be applied to the salvaged works. As a next step, Xu altered the critical text by substituting the real names and art works with false names and illustrations of the found paintings. He then hired a professional translator to translate the altered text into Chinese, making it even more incomprehensible, and subsequently published the falsified, translated article in a prestigious art magazine in China under the pseudonym of Jason Jones. On the surface, Wu Street appears to be no more than an elaborate practical joke; yet it poses serious questions concerning the contemporary art system, the often arbitrary nature of critical language and the basis for assessing the value of art.
Medium: Mixed media installation/ Braille books and book covers
This work, the title of which combines the words Braille and illiterate, is comprised of a reading room with a table piled with books. The covers of these books, altered by the artist, feature English titles superimposed over original Braille titles. The English titles are in fact completely different from the Braille ones, and bear no relation to the actual content of the books. Upon opening the books, a sighted member of the audience expecting to find an English text inside finds only pages printed in Braille, the content of which he/she assumes to be that indicated by the English title. Conversely, a blind audience member literate in Braille, unaware of the misleading English title printed on the book, would be unaware that sighted readers had a completely wrong impression of the book's content. The result is that the same object is interpreted by different viewers in completely different ways. Only those both in full capacity of their vision and educated in Braille would be able to comprehend the deception. In this way Brailleliterate evokes issues of cultural bias, misinterpretation and concealment.
Medium: Installation of printed and bound books with religious and secular texts
Dimension: varies; 35 × 45 × 8cm each book (closed)
This installation is comprised of 300 specially printed and bound volumes titled “Post Testament.” The content of the books is a strange, hybrid text. The King James’ version of the New Testament was combined with a trashy contemporary novel by alternating each word of the two texts. As a result, the only way to read the complete text taken from either book is to skip every other word. Yet, regardless of which narrative the reader is focused on, the visual presence of the other narrative cannot be avoided, creating a visual imprint on the reader’s mind. The hybrid text thus generates a new and abnormal reading pattern. The artist attempts to experiment with the relation between avant-garde literature and visual art.