“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.
Born on the cusp of the Cultural Revolution, Xiaoze Xie experienced the profound power of books firsthand. Formative memories of his grandmother sharing epic tales from classic novels dovetailed with recollections of his father, a school principal, who was forced to collect banned books slated for destruction under Mao. Doomed titles from the artist’s youth became forbidden, yet tantalizing objects that have continued to inspire Xie as a central aspect of his artistic practice.
Xie’s focus on books banned in China was initiated during a 2014 residency as a faculty fellow at the Stanford Center at Peking University when he compiled an index of banned books from the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) through the Republic of China (1911–49) into the present day. The artist expanded this research project to chart the history of banned books—through the use of painting, photography, and installation—including Dream of the Red Chamber (Hong Lou Meng) by Cao Xueqin, and Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan) attributed to Shi Nai’an, which have become among the most revered and beloved novels attributed to Shi Nai’an, which have become among the most revered and beloved novels in Chinese literature. Xie’s body of work provides a means to consider changes in cultural standards and their influence on shaping modern Chinese society.” — Asia Society
Xiaoze Xie: Objects of Evidence is curated by Michelle Yun, Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Asia Society Museum.