Xu Bing: A Retrospective Lecture Lecture

‘Your entire vocation –everything that is related to your work in any way, all of it – is actually of potential value because all of your work points towards a new mode of thinking. It can’t be found in the intrinsic components of the particular work, it lies in the entire artistic process by which the new mode of thinking is brought to light.’

Xu Bing (Transboundary Experiences: A Conversation between Xu Bing and Nick Kaldis) (2006)


From his earliest writings, sketches and drawings, Xu Bing has always been concerned with ‘modes of thinking’. Each of his works, each of his projects, is like an experiment in thought in which, regardless of background, we are invited to participate. Spread out in many places, for many different audiences, yet linked together through secret passageways, his works thus form part of a larger on-going itinerary driven by an obscure unsettled destiny. But what then is the ‘new mode of thinking’ that they bring to light, for whom, and through what distinctive processes or artistic means?   

In this lecture, focusing on three phases - in China, overseas, then back - I will look at the work as a great new Chinese story which is never quite at home, even in China, where what is ‘Chinese’ is something not confined to a national home, but is rather to be found in the survival and revitalization of a centuries-long material civilization, perpetuated as a new mode of thinking, pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. It is just in this way that Xu Bing’s mode of thinking opens questions about language, writing and materiality not to be found in Western art or philosophy of the last century. How then might Chinese art today serve as a laboratory for new ways of thinking in the 21st century?   --John Rajchman


Xu Bing: Art As a Form of Thinking

By John Rajcham | Philosopher and Professor of Art History at Columbia University

Date : 2014. 03. 22,14: 30-17: 00,

Venue : TFAM auditorium | lecture conducted in English, consecutive translation is available


About Lecture

John RAJCHMAN is a philosopher and a Professor of Art History at Columbia University (New York). A contributing editor at Artforum, he was a founder editor of Semiotexte and a member of the editorial board of October (in the 1980s), and the only non-architect on the board of ANY, an itinerant global architectural symposium of the 1990s. He has published extensively on French philosophy, art and architecture. His books and articles have been translated into many languages. For the past five years, he has directed a cross-disciplinary Seminar on Contemporary Art in China. His most recent publication, co-edited with Etienne Balibar, is French Philosophy Since 1945: Problems, Concepts, Inventions (The New Press, 2011). Forthcoming is Art and Theory in a Global Context.