Panda Zoo 熊猫动物园
1998

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Exhibited: Xu Bing, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York
Materials: Mixed medIa installation / Live pigs, bamboo, classical paintings.

In this work, Xu Bing created an ersatz "authentic" space for gallery visitors to view a well-known symbol of Chinese culture -- the panda bear. Xu Bing's pandas, however, were actually New Hampshire pigs, a breed with natural black-and-white markings similar to those of the panda bear. The artist doctored their appearance with panda masks and let them wander freely inside an elegant "Chinese" enclosure consisting of a bamboo grove against the backdrop of a traditional landscape painting.

Like a significant number of Xu's works, Panda Zoo explores the implications of the mask, an exploration that extends to his works of invented calligraphy, which the artist describes as ''masked characters.''