From Library Journal
At the culmination of his art career in China, Xu Bing (who now lives in the West) spent months inventing more than 1200 characters that mimic Chinese characters but have no known meaning. At once familiar and strange, they evoke confusion, wonderment, and even hostility in viewers. Xu Bing printed them in books with traditional formats, on wall posters, and on giant billowing sheets, which he installed in exhibition galleries to form a ceiling or sky. He cagily argues that any explanation of his art is superfluous because the books have no meaning. However, while the books themselves may be unreadable, they have a great deal to say about what their creator thought about Chinese art and culture after the Cultural Revolution. Issued in conjunction with his current exhibition at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian, this catalog describes the artist's early years in China and his subsequent career in the United States. Erickson, who has taught courses in post-Cultural Revolution art at the University of California and Stanford, offers a clear expository text and excellent photos. A fine introduction to a rising, mid-career artist and MacArthur "genius" Fellow who will, no doubt, have more opportunities to delight and bedevil his audiences. David McClelland, Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Britta Erickson has written and lectured widely on art in post-Cultural Revolution China. An independent scholar, she lives in Stanford, California.