Posthumous Pages, Amplified
Xiaoze Xie, the son of a middle school principal, grew up watching as books slated for destruction piled up on the floor of his father’s office during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
“At that time, people were urged to turn in books that were deemed bad, feudalist, reactionary or poisonous,” Xie says.
Xie, an internationally renowned Chinese artist, is known for his work depicting what he refers to as “sleeping” books, and it’s no real mystery why Xie’s artistry is full of pages — books were forbidden and coveted objects in the world he inhabited during his formative years. Years later and many miles away from his homeland, Xie’s work speaks to a culture that discards printed media in a completely different way. His art is perhaps more poignant now than ever before.
“Amplified Moments, 1993-2008” is a collection of Xie’s work that has found its way to Eugene’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. The exhibition is a startling and at times confrontational experience. Xie has taken his obsession with “sleeping” (shelved, forgotten) books into the realm of newspapers as well. Seemingly blurred images of America’s newspapers post 9/11 are mixed and mashed, painted with vibrant color. Depictions of student riots and political figures are masterfully distorted.
The JSMA has gone all out for the exhibition, even creating a video installation that utilizes approximately four hundred pounds worth of books as a screen upon which to project Xie’s work. The museum is also facilitating a gallery tour of “Amplified Moments” in both English and Chinese.
In our digitally oversaturated world, “Amplified Moments” almost feels like a eulogy for the printed page. From that perspective, the printed page couldn’t have asked for a better master of ceremonies.
“I realized the books, even newspapers, have eventually become relics,” Xie says. “I focus on their qualities as ruins.”
“Amplified Moments, 1993-2008” runs Sept. 24-Dec. 31 at the JSMA. — Dante Zuñiga-West