Monumental memories - Xu Weixin's Chinese historical figures, 1966-1976
This essay introduces the series ‘Chinese Historical Figures 1966-1976’, by Beijing artists Xu Weixin. The discussion centres on the relationship between pedagogy, historicity and memorialization in Xu’s work, drawing on both Xu’s perceptions of his own work, and on the theoretical frames in which it might be evaluated both in and beyond Chinese art practice. The article is informed by Sara Ahmed’s work on emotion, and Gerhard Richter’s notion of the blur as a clarification of the historical moment. In assessing Xu’s approach to memorialization, the article questions whether, by adopting an aesthetic of monumentality and compulsive repetition, Xu risks the series appearing too close to the governmental regime of excess and dogmatism that he is, in fact, attacking.
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