Book From the Sky is a 1,500 square foot space filled with printed text, displayed in the form of books, hanging scrolls, and wall panels. However, none of this text can be read, as they are made up of pseudo-Chinese characters invented by Xu himself. For this reason, Book from the Sky is considered an absurd contradiction – despite being comprised entirely of text, it cannot be read, seemingly rendering the book meaningless.
Xu Bing grew up in Beijing, China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution that took place between 1966 and 1976. He received his Master of Fine Arts in 1987 from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied printmaking. Book From the Sky was one of his first independent works, having completed it in the early 1990s. Book from the Sky has not been shown in China since its completion.
The exhibit at the Blanton is guest curated by Hao Sheng. The Blanton is always worth visiting for its collection of art and cultural artifacts, but experiencing Xu Bing’s Book from the Sky is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should not pass up.
By Anna Carruth