Cultural Negotiations 文化谈判


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Exhibited: Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, Ohio
Materials: books bound in classical Chinese and western styles, table (56' x 12'), chair.

An investigation of the cultural function and meaning of language, this installation combines 300 volumes each of books previously fabricated by Xu Bing. Dubbed ''problem books'' by the artist, these encompass the works Post Testament bound in classical Western style, and Book from the Sky bound in a traditional Chinese manner. While both sets of volumes appear to be traditional, in fact each is a contemporary text designed to be incomprehensible by the reader. The 600 volumes are piled on an enormous reading table measuring 56ft x 12ft, serving as fractured emblems of two cultured systems of knowledge. On the wall above the table is a large sign reading ''QUIET.'' The audience is invited to sit at the table and peruse the books. The contrast of the ordered public reading space, presided over by the warning of QUIET, with the chaos of the information-less books laid on the table in a scattered and turbulent fashion evokes strong cultural implications.