Saturday, January 10, 2009

Installation Art of Books

Since my first encounter with Xu Bing's installation art few years back, I've simply fallen in love with his art pieces, especially those blended with lots and lots of book and Chinese block text.

To me, these 2 are so far the favourites. 

Book from the sky

An installation that took Xu Bing over four years to complete. The artist invented 4000 Chinese characters and hand-carved them into wood blocks, then used them as movable type to print volumes and scrolls, which are displayed laid out on the floor and hung from the ceiling. The vast planes of text seem to convey ancient wisdom, but are in fact unintelligible. 

The Well of Truth

. . . ''The Well'' makes use of practically the whole of the ground floor of the venue ''La Gallera'' - a former arena built for cockfights which, after a period when it fell into disuse, was converted into an art gallery and is now a space for special projects of contemporary art. The twelve arches that support the upper floors and flank the central lower space have been blocked off with ''bricks'' of newspapers - as if they were building bricks, irregular slabs of stone - cutting off both physical and visual access to the inside. The public is then forced to go around the outside of this wall and go up to the second floor where it can, and only from here, contemplate the visual scene and spectacle happening on the inside of this kind of well formed by the wall of newspaper... On the bottom of this well, in what was formerly the arena of the cockfights, Xu Bing has placed a covering of natural grass (uneven, worn, and parched in spots, ''to transmit the idea that nobody has entered into this space for a long, long time'') and on it lie the skeletons of fowls, both large and small, some intact, others partially intact with scattered bones, naturally placed, as if time and destiny had scattered them randomly . . .

You can view his other works here.

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