Lost Letters 遗失的文字
1997

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Exhibited:Xu Bing: Lost Letters, Asian Fine Arts Factory, Berlin
Materials: prints of a factory floor on its wall, old printing press.

This work was created using found objects from the space presently occupied by the Asian Fine Art Factory in Berlin. Xu Bing was fascinated by the physical traces of the complex history of the space: used in the early part of the 20th century by the German Communist party as an underground publishing house and political meeting arena. During this time both Karl Liebknecht and William Pieck held public assembly in this space to support the forthcoming revolution. Subsequently, the space was requisitioned by the Nazi regime for use as a holding area for deportees during the Second World War. Imprints of type-blocks were visible on the floor from the printing presses once housed there. Using the floor as a template the artist took prints on paper directly from its surface, creating the effect of an oversized newspaper. A vintage printing press was placed in the center of the installation space, and made to print from intentionally inverted metal type plates, mimicking the effect of the floor prints. Display cases mounted on the wall held tiny ''historical ruins'' such as blocks of type found hidden in cracks in the floor, metal scraps, etc. This work reflects the artist's interest in the markings of the past, relating not only to historical memory but also to his own personal memories and experiences.