Xu Bing: Square Word Calligraphy Classroom

When 7 Sep 2011 - 22 Oct 2011
Where Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University
8th floor, Schermerhorn Hall, 116th St. and Broadeway
New York, NY
United States

Xu Bing, Square Word Calligraphy, 2011. Courtesy the artist

September 7 – October 22 2011

Reception: September 14, 5-7pm

Artist’s Lecture: September 14, 7-8:30pm

Press Release:

Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery celebrates the beginning of the academic year with a presentation of Square Word Calligraphy Classroom by the internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Xu Bing. This thought-provoking, interactive installation by the world-renown contemporary Chinese artist invites visitors to rediscover what it means to write and to read.

Square Word Calligraphy, invented and designed by the artist Xu Bing, is a system that transforms a linear, phonetic system of writing into a character system based on the square. Fusing written English and Chinese, square words arrange the slightly altered letters of an English word into a shape resembling a Chinese character, yet they remain legible to the English reader.

Xu Bing’s installation at the Wallach Art Gallery simulates a classroom setting. Desks with ink, brushes, and copybooks are set out for use by gallery visitors. A video and an instruction manual invite us to participate in the class and provide rudimentary lessons. As visitors learn to recognize and write square words, their ingrained habits of reading and writing are challenged. The artist’s hope is that “while undergoing this process of estrangement and re-familiarization with one’s written language, the audience is reminded of the self-induced distance between systems of language.”

Accompanying the installation of Square Word Calligraphy Classroom, the Wallach Art Gallery will present several large-scale calligraphic works by the artist. These include the first public presentation of Xu Bing’s Reflections on a Poem by Zhu Xi, which was recently donated to Columbia University s C. V. Starr East Asian Library the library.

Related Events:

Thursday, 22 September 2011: Professor Lydia Liu
Jabberwocky in Writing: Xu Bing’s Translingual Experiments
Lecture: 7:00–8:30 pm in the gallery

Wednesday, 5 October 2011: Christopher Calderhead
Alphabet & Ideogram: Calligraphy in a Global Age
Lecture: 7:00–8:30 pm in the gallery

For more information please click here.