Two Installations by Xu Bing
Presented in Collaboration with Institution for Electronic Arts at Alfred University
On View Friday, April 12–Sunday, August 25, 2013
A Case Study of Transference
A Case Study of Transference is based on the set of photos documenting one of Xu Bing’s signature performance piece from 1994 entitled Cultural Animal. The original set of photos was scanned with an Ever Smart Pro Scanner at the Institute of Electronic Arts School of Art and Design, NYSCC at Alfred University. It was then printed in 2005.
Cultural Animal was created as an extension of an earlier project, A Case Study of Transference. A life-sized mannequin in human form, covered in false-character tattoos, was placed inside an enclosure containing a male pig, similarly tattooed. The intention was both to observe the reaction of the pig towards the mannequin and to produce an absurd and random drama -- an intention that was realized when the pig reacted to the mannequin in an aggressively sexual manner. The entire process was documented and the resulting photographs were exhibited several years after the event, in 1998.
Men Women Children
Xu Bing’s printmaking explores the transformation or reinterpretation of language that exists at the perimeters between two completely different cultures, English and Chinese. To viewers of his work from these two cultures, the representations of the written language presents equal points of both familiarity and of strangeness. At first glance it appears to be Chinese characters, but in fact it is a new way of rendering English. A Chinese person recognizes the characters as familiar icons but has difficulty in understanding their exact meaning. To a Westerner, they first appear as mysterious glyphs from Asian culture, yet ultimately they can be read and understood. Xu Bing calls his design of this new kind of writing Square Word Calligraphy. Chinese viewers expect to be able to read it but cannot. Western viewers, however, are surprised to find that their meaning is un-expectantly revealed.
Text courtesy of Xu Bing's website.