Bookmarking Book Art – “Farewell Our Globalism”, Xu Bing and the Guggenheim

Huang Yong Ping: The History of Chinese Painting and a Concise History of Modern Painting Washed in a Washing Machine for Two Minutes, 1987/1993, ink on wooden crate, paper pulp, and glass, 30 by 19 by 27½ inches. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

 

“Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” now appearing at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through January 7, 2018, includes work from Xu Bing and Huang Yong Ping. The exhibition attracted animal rights protestors and removal of works, one of which was Xu Bing’s video of his 1994 installation A Case Study of Transference. In a pen littered with books, Xu Bing presented two pigs, one tattooed with words in his now famous nonsense Chinese calligraphy and one with nonsense English words. The piece became infamous when the pigs, bored with the intercourse offered by the books, engaged in more mutually interesting discourse.

A Case Study of Transference (1994)
ⓒ Xu Bing
The exhibition also occasioned this article in “Art in America” by managing editor Richard Vine. He has held up art’s hard mirror to us all in this essay.