Wenda Gu: Art from Middle Kingdom to Biological Millennium

Overview

Wenda Gu is one of the leading contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. Known by some as "the hair artist" and remembered by others as the artist whose monumental installation was violently destroyed by a Russian artist at the infamous "Interpol" exhibition (Stockholm, 1996), he is part of the diaspora that has sent many Chinese artists to the West over the past twenty years. He has built his reputation on reinvigorating ancient Chinese symbols and practices--the seal, calligraphy, ink painting--with ...

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Overview

Wenda Gu is one of the leading contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. Known by some as "the hair artist" and remembered by others as the artist whose monumental installation was violently destroyed by a Russian artist at the infamous "Interpol" exhibition (Stockholm, 1996), he is part of the diaspora that has sent many Chinese artists to the West over the past twenty years. He has built his reputation on reinvigorating ancient Chinese symbols and practices--the seal, calligraphy, ink painting--with contemporary vision and meaning.Wenda Gu often uses genetic material--hair and blood--as his medium. His most ambitious, ongoing project, the United Nations series, consists of installations at sites around the world in which hair is used to create works of art emblematic of a future not ruled by racial or national boundaries. To mark the British handover of Hong Kong to
China, for example, he created "United Nations: Hong Kong Monument: The Historical
Clash," which consisted of a Chinese flag made of Chinese hair, a Union Jack made of
British hair, and hair cuttings from Hong Kong scattered on the floor. These "united nations" monuments have been installed so far in Australia, Canada, China, France,
Great Britain, Holland, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South
Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States.Wenda Gu: Art from Middle Kingdom to
Biological Millennium is the most comprehensive presentation of Wenda Gu�s work to date. Two generous sections of plates document the United Nations series and other projects, many of which are presented in the exhibition this book accompanies.
The book also includes previously unpublished writings by Gu, an interview with the artist by David Cateforis, and essays by Mark Bessire, the co-curator of the exhibit, and Gao Minglu and Gan Xu, both leading authorities on the new Chinese avant-garde.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Through a well-balanced mix of critical essays and artist interviews,
Gu's remarkable story and ambitious artistic intentions emerge." Donna
Seaman
Ruminator Review

The MIT Press

Library Journal
The Chinese belief that their country is the cradle of civilization is reflected in the name of their country, "the Middle (or Center) Kingdom." Yet 20th-century political and economic conditions have forced young Chinese artist Gu to leave his homeland and construct an artistic vision of Chinese culture from an outside point of view. In this handsome catalog, Bessire (director, Inst. for Contemporary Art, Maine Coll. of Art) presents a mid-career review, with critical essays, artist's interview, and Gu's own writings. Drawing on and reacting against his classical Chinese art training, Gu has constructed a number of installations exploring the cultural and political relations between nations. Many of these artworks are constructed of human hair collected from the nations being examined. Visually beautiful and oddly powerful, they have evoked responses ranging from awe to violence. Other works use tea, menstrual blood, carved stone, and placental tissue to explore body politics, nationalism, and the relevance of ancient artistic and literary traditions to the present. The companion to a recent exhibition that traveled through Texas, Missouri, and Maine, this is the single best book available on Gu and an important addition to the literature on contemporary Chinese art.-David McClelland, Philadelphia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262025522
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2003
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark H. C. Bessire is Director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.
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Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Introduction 12
United nations series 19
Seeking a Model of Universalism 20
Face the new millennium: the divine comedy of our times 30
Plates 42
From middle kingdom to biological millennium 141
Interview with Wenda Gu 143
Plates 163
Tradition and Confrontation 193
Neo-Hexagram 194
The Cultural War 202
Transnation: Symposium Postscript 208
Exhibition History and Bibliography 213
Acknowledgements 222
Contributors 225
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