Xiaoze Xie: Objects of Evidence
Asia Society presents an exhibition of paintings, installation, photography, and video by Xiaoze Xie (b. 1966 in Guangdong Province, China) tracing the history of banned books in China and exploring the subjectivity of censorship in relation to the shifting nature of sociopolitical and religious ideologies.
On view in the exhibition are a selection of oil paintings, a photographic installation of editions of books printed in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties, and a 46-minute video documentary about Xie’s work and the history and impact of literary censorship in Mainland China. Objects of Evidence (Modern Books), comprises three vitrines containing first edition banned books from Mainland China, accompanied by later editions sourced from outside the mainland, from three modern eras in Chinese history: the Republican Era (1911–49), the Hu Feng Anti-party Clique period in the 1950s, and the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Foreign books in translation—including A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë—were among the books banned for their socially corrupting material. To date, the artist has collected over 750 publications for this ongoing project.
Also included in the exhibition is a searchable database, created by the artist as an interactive complement to Objects of Evidence, of information about books censored in China from the Ming dynasty to the present including author, book title, and the date and reason for censorship. Visitors may access selected publications under the following subjects: politics, literature, religion, academics, and morality. The database also includes a brief overview of the history of censorship in Mainland China.