Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral
On view through 2014
Over the course of two years, pioneering Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing culled detritus from construction sites across the rapidly changing urban landscape of Beijing, and transformed it into his most monumental project to date: Phoenix (2008-10). A feat of engineering and ingenuity, Phoenix is composed of two birds, a male called Feng and a female called Huang. Feng and Huang—together weighing 12 tons and measuring 90 and 100 feet long, respectively—are now on view at the Cathedral. They hang suspended in the Nave, two majestic birds in perpetual flight beneath its celestial ceiling.
Creating the phoenixes was a tortuous process, requiring flexibility at every turn. Describing the coming-into-being of Phoenix, the artist explains: “The method is unsophisticated, like Chinese lanterns. At the same time it is also in keeping with the Western concept of ready-made assemblage. The entire process of creation forms an interactive relationship with the environment and Chinese society.” At once fierce and strangely beautiful, Xu Bing's mythic birds bear witness to the complex interconnection between labor, history, commercial development, and the rapid accumulation of wealth in today's China.
Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral is the second presentation of these works in the United States. They were previously on view at MassMoCA, North Adams, MA, and have been exhibited in China at the Today Art Museum, Beijing, and Expo10, Shanghai.
The exhibit is open during the Cathedral's regular hours, 7:30 am – 6 pm daily, and will be on view through 2014. There are no tickets or reservations needed to visit the exhibition.
Across the Centuries, Across the Continents: Triangle Fire and Bangladesh Garment Workers Memorial Quilts
May 1 through Labor Day, 2014, in the Chapel of Saint Boniface
The 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City killed 146 young immigrant workers, who either burned inside the building or jumped to their deaths, because the factory doors were locked. One of the worst workplace disasters in American history, it galvanized the city and the nation to fight for workplace protections, spurred union organizing, and inspired far-reaching reforms for workplace safety that continue to protect Americans today. Despite these gains, workers around the world continue to face unsafe practices and workplaces---a reality starkly revealed by the 2012 and 2013 Tazreen and Rana Plaza factory disasters in Bangladesh, in which more than 1,300 people lost their lives.
Writer, artist and activist Robin Berson's quilts memorialize the workers who were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and their modern-day counterparts in Bangladesh. Created with the support of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a national alliance of organizations and individuals formed to commemorate the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, these evocative quilts honor the lives of garment workers, and provide a entry into discussions of current and historic labor rights issues, encouraging activism by and for workers around the world.