“The Lightness of Being: Geng Xue Solo Exhibition” will take place at Zhuzhong Art Museum

TEXT:CAFA ART INFO    DATE: 2019.12.18

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Zhuzhong Art Museum announces Geng Xue’s latest solo exhibition entitled “The Lightness of Being” will be unveiled on December 29th, 2019. Geng Xue, born in 1983 in Jilin, graduated from the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fines Arts in 2007 and the Printmaking Department in 2014, supervised by Professor Xu Bing. She currently teaches at the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts. Geng Xue has worked with multiple media, such as ceramics, sculpture, painting, and video art, etc. She was invited to participate at exhibitions worldwide, including the 58th Venice Biennale, China Pavilion, in 2019; the 21st Sydney Biennale in 2018, the 57th Venice Biennale, Venetian Arsenal, in 2017, and the Busan Biennale in 2014.

This exhibition, curated by Alia Lin, and with Professor Shao Yiyang, vice dean of the School of Humanities of Central Academy of Fine Arts, as academic director, focuses on eight groups of Geng Xue’s recent works—the Name of Gold, Socrates’ Square, the Fly, a Childhood Fable, the Poetry of Michelangelo, Two Mounds, the Piping of Heaven, and the Tape of Freedom. Works on display include installations, sculptures, videos, and sketches.

Geng Xue’s works constantly explore the weight and lightness of being, that is, the cruelty and tenderness of life. Not only are they full of violence, but stress the warmness of life as well. For instance, in the Poetry of Michelangelo, the artist blows into the mouth of the sculpture, giving it life, yet she then cuts off its head and limbs for molding; even in the cruel, black and white world of the Name of Gold, there is a golden ship that represents redemption. From a fly, the lowest of all beings, to the ceramic workers in Jingdezhen, from Syrian children to the imagined clay figures, Geng Xue focuses on the beings of individuals. As the curator Alia Lin has stated, “life only comes once. Regardless of its horror, sublimity, or beauty, everything becomes meaningless once it fades away. Frightened by never leaving traces of their existence, humans obstinately struggle to find a meaning for their lives, trying desperately to obtain the “weight” and yet avoiding the burdens of the “weight”; desiring to be free, and yet escaping from freedom. One is destined to be caught in the dilemma of weight and lightness, and the key to one’s being lies in the freedom to choose.”

The exhibition lasts till March 1st, 2020.

Selected Works by Geng Xue

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The Name of Gold

The Name of Gold /clay-figure film,multi-screen videos and field installation, dimension variable

In the dual-screen video, characters created with clay forge ahead in the black-and-white world. Presented at the beginning of the video, black and white embodies a world that is both cruel and humorous, real and illusory, secular and sacred.

People work collectively to create a monolith, so huge that it is beyond vision, and even offer part of themselves or others as sacrifice, yet the monolith in turn devours them without mercy…

The film still leaves some space for interpretation, for instance, is the giant a Babel Tower? As time flows back at its will, is it a symbol of the past like a dreamy illusion? Is the film a reflection on collective human behavior, or a fable of human life, sickness and death?

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Socrates’ Square

Socrates’ Square / porcelain and glass installation / 2017

Photography: Pei Gong

Socrates spent his entire life questioning and indoctrinating the Athenians, yet he was eventually executed by the democratic system of Athens at the time, as the referendum granted him a cup of poisonous wine.

The trial of Socrates has long been in discussion in the legal field, compared with the death of Jesus, one political and the other religious.

In Socrates’ Square, fragile glass and white porcelain are used for organs that symbolize the life of human groups and the will of individuals (or individual life and collective will). Human internal organs and bones all look identical, for they are prescribed and in universal forms.



The Fly / video shot bymobile phone, black and white/ sound / 2018

Photography: Pei Gong

Flies are inferior creatures in the world where they coexist with human beings. Humans invented the flypaper to capture the flies. After being trapped, a fly makes a struggling sound with its whole body: the wings, the stomach, the proboscis… Its volume and frequency from such a small body are astounding and disturbing. The sound lasts, changes between high and low frequencies, maintains a rhythm, stops, and bursts again, turning the dying insect into a complex musical instrument.

As the viewers witness the tragedy of the fly, its pain and death are also heard.



The Poetry of Michelangelo / video installation / 2015

Michelangelo is the grand master of Western Renaissance. In his sonnet collection, there are a lot of passionate love poems addressed to his homosexual lovers, which are full of love, art and divinity, emotions and faith.

Unlike Michelangelo, who leaves his traces through chiseling and hammering, Geng Xue does not use any tools, but only work with her hands, leaving “traces” on the clay, which in turn stains all over her body.

The subtitles of the video are excerpted from Michelangelo’s love poems, responding to the artist’s actions in the video, through which she is trying to convey special emotions and imaginations to the viewers.



A Childhood Fable / video, sound, 15-40pieces of sculptures, 70-150cm in height / 2016 – 2018

Photography: Pei Gong

The video documents a thorough clean-up of the Department of Sculpture of Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2016, when students were smashing the waste materials from classes and their own practices.

Heavy objects were thrown out one by one and hitting the ground, creating continuous loud noise very much like explosions and gunshots, reverberating in the space. The actions of these students smashing statues, wooden materials, and various art waste were as violent as men battling in a warzone.

Geng Xue recorded this process and made child-sized sculptures with the thrown out materials that are humanoid but dehumanized, innocent but evil, powerful but sad.

About the artist

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Geng Xue was born in Jilin in 1983. In 2007, she graduated from the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree. In 2014, she graduated from the Printmaking Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts with a master’s degree, surpervised by Professor Xu Bing. She currently teaches at the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts. Her works involve multiple media, such as ceramics, sculpture, painting, and video art, etc.

She was invited to participate at exhibitions worldwide, including the 58th Venice Biennale, China Pavilion, in 2019; the 21st Sydney Biennale in 2018, the 57th Venice Biennale, Venetian Arsenal, in 2017, and the Busan Biennale in 2014. Her works have been exhibited at galleries and museums in China, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, and South America, etc.

Selected Exhibitions

2019   the 58th Venice Biennale “May you live in interesting times”, China Pavilion, Venetian Arsenal, Venice, Italy

2018   the 21st Biennale of Sydney “SUPERPOSITION: Art of Equilibrium and Engagement”, Sydney, Australia

“The Piping of Heaven”, TaoXiChuan Art Museum, Jingdezhen, China

2017   “In Motion: Ceramic Reflections in Contemporary Art”, Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

“Unspoken Understanding: the Exhibition of Xu Bing and His Students”, Eslite Spectrum Suzhou, Suzhou, China.

“Ritual Spirit”, White Rabbit Collection, Australia

2016   “In search of sound: PRIX YISHU8 CHINE (YISHU8 Chinese Young ArtistAward)”, Beijing, China.

About the curator

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Alia Lin was born in Hohhot in 1990. She graduated from Parsons the New School for Design in 2015 with a BFA in Architectural Design, and received the “Undergraduate Architectural Design Award” upon graduation. From 2015 to 2016, Lin interned at the Design Department of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where she worked on the exhibition design of many projects. In 2017, she graduated from University College London with a master’s degree in History of Art.

Curatorial Experience

2019 “The Lightness of Being: Geng Xue Solo Exhibition”, Beijing, China.

2018 “HER KIND 创”, Beijing, China.

Academic Director: Shao Yiyang

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Shao Yiyang is a professor of Art History and Theory, Ph.D supervisor, and Vice Dean of the School of Humanities, Central Academy of Fine Arts. She is the director of Foreign Art History Research, and a member of the Art Theory Committee of China Artists Association. She received her doctoral degree from University of Sydney, Australia in 2003.


Contemporary Art Theory:

Global Perspective in Contemporary Art (2019)

Beyond Postmodernism (2012)

Art After Postmodernism (2008)

Art History:

20th Century Modern & Contemporary Art (2018)

A History of Western Art (2014)

About the exhibition

THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING: Geng Xue Solo Exhibition

Duration: December 29th, 2019 – March 1st, 2020 (10:00 – 17:00, Closes on Mondays)

Free entry

Opening: December 29th, 2019, 15:30

Curator: Alia Lin

Academic Director: Shao Yiyang

Venue: Zhuzhong Art Museum

Courtesy of the artist and Zhuzhong Art Museum, for further information please visit http://en.zzart.com.cn.