Xu Bing and Contemporary Chinese Art: Cultural and Philosophical Reflections (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Paperback))

Xu Bing and Contemporary Chinese Art: Cultural and Philosophical Reflections (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Paperback))

Language: English

Pages: 264

ISBN: 1438437900

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Explores how Xu Bing and other contemporary Chinese artists use Western ideas within a Chinese cultural discourse.

How Chinese is contemporary Chinese art? Treasured by collectors, critics, and art world cognoscenti, this art developed within an avant-garde that looked West to find a language to strike out against government control. Traditionally, Chinese artistic expression has been related to the structure and function of the Chinese language and the assumptions of Chinese natural cosmology. Is contemporary Chinese art rooted in these traditions or is it an example of cultural self-colonization? Contributors to this volume address this question, going beyond the more obvious political and social commentaries on contemporary Chinese art to find resonances between contemporary artistic ideas and the indigenous sources of Chinese cultural self-understanding.

Focusing in particular on the acclaimed artist Xu Bing, this book explores how he and his peers have navigated between two different cultural sites to establish a third place, a place from which to appropriate Western ideas and use them to address centuries-old Chinese cultural issues within a Chinese cultural discourse.

“This important collection makes a significant contribution to the study of Chinese philosophy and art.” — Chenyang Li, author of The Tao Encounters the West: Explorations in Comparative Philosophy
















usually see in exhibitions. To sum up, works by Wu Shanzhuan, Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, and other artists of the New Wave since the 1980s have participated in a Chinese discourse in response to China’s social problems, while drawing from the Western art of the postindustrial period. Their works speak of the artists’ fragmented memories, particularly their traumatic memories of the Cultural Revolution, as well as of visual hybridity and relativism, playfulness and parody of certain aspects of Chinese

has been variously translated as “Star Group,” or the “Stars.” Both are mistranslations. The name refers to an ancient phrase Mao Zedong borrowed as a theme for a letter to Lin Biao to persuade Lin that although the numbers of Red Army soldiers were small, they are like sparks, xingxing 星星 (literally “star star”), that could set the prairie ablaze. Hence, I always want to call this group the “Sparks.” 18. See Chang; for a discussion of the impact of the Stars exhibitions, see Wu Hung, 17–18. 19.

cannot capture meaning without the effective deployment of words and images. This is what the Zhuangzi means when it insists on having a further word with the person who has forgotten words: The reason for fishtraps is to catch fish, but having caught the fish, you forget the fishtrap. The reason for rabbit snares is to snare rabbits, but having caught the rabbit, you forget the snare. The reason for words is to capture meaning, but having grasped the meaning, you forget the words. Where can I fi nd a

indicates a certain phase or quality of experience that is not necessarily associated with any religion: [It] denotes nothing in the way of a specifiable entity, either institutional or as a system of belief . . . For it does not denote anything that can exist by itself or that can be organized into a particular and distinctive form of existence. It denotes attitudes that may be taken toward every object and every proposed end or ideal.7 Dewey argues forcefully against assertions that religious

abstract explanations. Like all great art, it is bottomless, allowing us in our appreciation only to “get on with it” as opposed to “getting it right.” There are seven chapters in this collection. Tsao Hsingyuan begins the volume by offering the general background needed to contextualize the contemporary art scene in China, illustrating how artists have sought to please different audiences under different circumstances. In “Reading and Misreading: Double Entendre in Locally Oriented Logos,”

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