Monday, May 26, 2014

In flight

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is playing host to two remarkable guests - enormous 12-ton phoenixes from China. They are the work of Xu Bing 徐冰 (whom I know from the prodigious "Book from the Sky" in the Met's Ink Art exhibition), and are constituted entirely of the detritus from the construction site of the trade center in Beijing which originally commissioned the works (and then backed out). I am often put off by what seems to me the showy scale of the works of contemporary Chinese art which we get to see here. I appreciate (and will doubtless come to appreciate more fully) that one may need to shout to be heard in the clamor of Chinese change, but it still seems like shouting. Not this one, though, although it's clearly a crying out too - the stuff of these phoenixes is meant to materialize for us the poorly-paid migrant laborers building China's miracle cities.

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