Reading Xu Bing

Mike Boyle
Jan 28, 2013 3:08AM

Xu Bing is a very cool and famous Chinese artist who does a lot of work that is about language and the symbols we use to represent language. That might sound unbearably pretentious and dull, but Xu Bing is far from that. His work is clever, accesible, and fun!

Take a close look at these restroom signs. What look at first like Chinese characters are actually clever rearrangements of the English words MenWomen, and Nursery.

Other works by Xu Bing use a universal symbolic language that has no "words" in the normal sense, but which anyone can understand and enjoy. If you spend time chatting online, you'll recognize lots of the icons and emoticons right away. These pages from Book from the Ground use this language to tell the story of the universal struggle for regularity in the morning. Read and enjoy!

Mike Boyle