In China, a person is literate if she can read 4,000 characters. So artist Xu Bing invented 4,000 “fake” characters to render a person illiterate.
He spent four years making his installation, pictured above, and now on display at Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. Xu’s “Book from the Sky” embraces traditional Chinese bookprinting techniques but creates an illegible text. The result is nevertheless a clear memo: meaning lies somewhere beyond the word, the word exists beyond meaning, the relationship between a word and its meaning is not monogamous.
For Xu, they are, in fact, divorced but still very much in love.