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In Dialogue with Xu Bing

Jul 15, 2015

Internationally renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing spoke at an exciting series of events at Heidelberg University, July 10-16, 2015, focusing on contemporary Chinese art. In total, about 500 students and researchers attended the three occasions organised by Prof. Sarah E. Fraser in cooperation with several organisations.

Xu Bing (*1955) is an artist living and working in Beijing and New York. His works have been displayed at numerous exhibitions all over the world. Furthermore, he has received, among others, a MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Grant") and the title of Honorary Doctor at Columbia University. In 2015, he is Heinz Götze Visiting Professor in Chinese Art at the Institute of East Asian Art History of Heidelberg University. He is also Vice-President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing. His works explore the relationship between China and the West, look at the state of world affairs through the lens of Buddhist wisdom, and investigate the paths that human language is following. In his work, he seeks to reinvigorate tradition in order to make it meaningful for the current age.

The first event was a public lecture by Xu Bing named “Innovation from Tradition”, reviewing those of his works that relate to the Chinese tradition – mainly books inspired by different printing techniques including "Book from the Sky" and "Book from the Ground". The second session engaged art students, professionals, and the general public in an open dialogue with the artist with the participation of the Taiwanese critic Jason Chia Chi Wang who was curator of Xu Bing's "A Retrospective" at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 2014. A final roundtable discussion with representatives from the interdisciplinary NET1 project explored the social and transcultural aspects of Xu’s works. The proceedings will be published with Prof. Sarah E. Fraser and Yu-Chieh Li as editors.

The events were organised by Prof. Sarah E. Fraser, Chair of Chinese Art History at the Institute of East Asian Art History, Heidelberg University, and her Ph.D. candidate Yu-Chieh Li. All organisational matters were managed by Lucia Banholzer. For this project, they were cooperating with the Cluster's research group NET1 "Arts and the Transcultural", and the Institute of European Art History. The events were supported by the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, the Heinz Götze-Foundation, and the Confucius Institute, Heidelberg.


Event Overview:

"Innovation from Tradition"

Public Lecture
Friday, July 10, 2015, 6 – 8 p.m.
Alte Universität, Aula (Grabengasse 1). Followed by a dinner reception in the foyer of the Neue Universität.

"In Dialogue with Xu Bing"
Saturday, July 11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Neue Universität, lecture hall 13 (Universitätsplatz). Followed by a get-together with the artist in the courtyard of the Institute of Art History (Seminarstraße 4).
Questions to the artist for the dialogue may be submitted to XB-dialogue@zo.uni-heidelberg.de by July 5, 2015.

Audience Participation in Xu Bing's Works: Transcultural Issues in Global Contemporary Art
Thursday, July 16, 2015, 6 – 8 p.m.
Karl Jaspers Centre, R. 212, Voßstraße 2 (Bld. 4400).

Registration is required. For further information visit the conference website.


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  • Photos: Susann Henker, Institut für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens