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Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China, in 1955 but grew up in Beijing. In 1975 he was relocated to the countryside for two years during the Cultural Revolution. Separated from his parents, he was assigned to produce large banners and posters that conveyed the messages of the government. In 1977 he enrolled in the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, where he learned traditional art techniques. In 1990, he moved to the United States, making his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Several of Xu Bing’s works (including those printed in this issue of Diacritics) deal with his exploration of language and language games. Often his work plays off his audience’s expectations by rendering the text unreadable or meaningless. His highly provocative and conceptual work includes performance, installation, printed books, and drawing.

His work has been shown in such venues as the 45th and 51st Venice Biennials and the Museum of Modern Art as well as solo exhibitions in the US, Europe, and Asia. In 1999 Xu Bing was awarded the MacArthur Award. Persistence/Transformation: Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing, a multidisciplinary study of Xu Bing’s landmark work Book from the Sky, was published by Princeton University Press in 2006.


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(Page 2).


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Figure 1
Xu Bing, Book from the Sky (1987–91) hand-printed books, ceiling and wall scrolls from false letter blocks, installation view from Elvehjem Museum, Madison, WI, 1991

Xu Bing, Book from the Sky (1987–91) detail of work.


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Figure 3
Xu Bing, A Case Study of Transference (1993–94) performance with pigs printed with false text and books, Han Mo Art Center, Beijing, China.


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Figure 4
Xu Bing, A Case Study of Transference (1993–94) working on the project.


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Figure 5
Xu Bing, A Case Study of Transference (1993–94) printing false text on boar.


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Figure 6
Artist carving woodblock for the primer Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy.


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Figure 7
Xu Bing, Square Word Calligraphy Classroom (1994–96) installation view at Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), London, 1997.


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Figure 8
Xu Bing, Square word calligraphy red-line tracing book.


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Figure 9
Xu Bing, Bird Language (2003) detail, metal and toy bird, installation view at the Chinese Arts Center, Manchester, UK.


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Figure 10
Xu Bing, Bird Language (2003) installation view at the Chinese Arts Center, Manchester, UK.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
p. 142
Launched on MUSE
2006-11-14
Open Access
No
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