Xu Bing's Phoenixes Case Study

Great Essays
After a long time working in the United States, Xu Bing decided to come back to China as vice president of The Central Academy of Fine Arts, CAFA, in 2008. At the same time, he was invited to create a commercial project for Beijing Central Business District, CBD. When he entered the construction site of this building, the animalistic hot temperature and rough skin in its interior enthralled Xu Bing’s attention immediately. The direct contrast of the migrant workers’ harsh working conditions and splendid appearances of mansions motivated Xu Bing to record this striking impression of his homeland. Unexpectedly, a real estate developer, sponsor of this project agreed to his idea of making a work of art out of useless materials in the atrium …show more content…
In fact, the distinctive atmosphere surrounded the Phoenixes are closely related to its component materials and the social context in Beijing. Even though the Phoenixes are made of construction debris, from Xu Bing’s point of view, “every piece of refuse has been touched by these migrant workers. It is as if each piece has been touched by the heavens, after which it has a kind of spirit. So its beauty comes from the history of these materials (Traub).” In addition, specific corresponding relations between different parts of the body and its correlative elements existed in Phoenixes set off its eccentric attraction. For instance, the heads of Phoenixes are deliberately associated with the role of the helmet. Both of them assert their prominent identity firmly, compared with other figures in the forests or on the construction sites. Shovels, because of their similar structures, decorate the feathers of Phoenixes. A stalk supports the whole compositions of tiny feathers and heavy shovels. Owing to identical functions of digging earth or food, the bucket of the excavator substitutes claws of the Phoenixes. In the beginning, human beings imitate the composition of animals to create machines to facilitate their lives (Xiong Artron). Nowadays, when these devices meet their ancestors, the coarse …show more content…
Different from the first exhibition, the following three locations have intimate relations with the aura of Phoenixes, because of their characteristic interior surroundings. In 2012, Phoenixes started their foreign journey from MASS MoCa in North Adams. At a time, it was a flourishing textile mill in Massachusetts and working as a telegraph site in World War II. Then, because of various reasons, it has been reconstructed as a gallery, which is full of industrial atmosphere. From a certain degree, both of the Phoenixes and renovated MASS MoCA witness the different developments of societies. Phoenixes, later, exhibited in a Gothic Church in New York, The Cathedral of St John. The intimate associations with revolutionary activities in the history eliminated the incoherent relation between subversive installation art and religious site in 2014. Phoenixes, int his cathedral, reminded human beings “the sacred responsibility to our fellow man, to fair wages and humane work conditions (Marialena).”This year, the two Phoenixes assembled at the dock of the Arsenale in Venice for the 56th international art exhibition, responding to the thesis of “All The World’s Futures.” As a representation of accumulating wealth in China, Phoenixes symbolize the

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