Ghosts Pounding the Wall 鬼打墙
1990-1991

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Exhibited:Three Installations by Xu Bing, Elvehjem Museum of Art, Wisconsin
Materials: Mixed media installation / Transfered print from Great Wall, paper, ink

This monumental work, measuring 32 m x 15 m, consists of 29 rubbings of a section of the Great Wall taken by means of a traditional Chinese ink-rubbing technique. In this way, the Great Wall is transformed into a medium for printmaking.
Engaging fundamental issues of printmaking, the piece is a further extension of Xu Bing's interest in using printmaking as a means to record the imprint of found objects. The physical contact between the print and its source required in Xu's unconventional approach to the printmaking process is often absent in more popular visual media, such as photography and television: from this perspective, the images produced by the latter are no more than shadows.
The title of this work is derived from critical attacks on Xu Bing's earlier installation work Book from the Sky, leveled against the artist by a coterie of conservative art critics in the period immediately following the Tian'an men Incident. The phrase ''ghosts pounding the wall'' carried the implied criticism that the artist's thinking and approach were seriously flawed, and that he thus was doomed to failure.