Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral
On view through February 2015
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 February 2015. There are no tickets or reservations needed to visit the exhibition.