China’s Artistic Diaspora

For sixty years, upheavals in Chinese politics have not only remade the country’s economy–they have remade Chinese art

Xu Bing's Book from the Sky(1987-1991), hand printed books, ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type using false Chinese characters, dimensions variable, installation view at "Crossings," National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1998). (Courtesy Xu Bing Studio)

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Indeed, the exhilarating pace of cultural combustion in modern China is even luring some diaspora artists back home. In January, Xu Bing accepted a post as a vice president of his alma mater, the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Although he will still maintain a studio in New York, he says he will now spend the majority of his time in China. Reflecting on his time abroad he told me, "I've been able to do things outside China that I couldn't have otherwise done," but now it is time "to return to Chinese soil … that is where the energy is, where history is happening. There are so many multiple cultural layers—it is something really new."


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