Artist Xu Bing launches rocket project inspired by China’s astronautic spirit
Published: Nov 08, 2021 06:19 PM
The poster of the exhibition Photo: Courtesy of the Red Brick Art Museum

The poster of the exhibition Photo: Courtesy of the Red Brick Art Museum  

The launching of Xu Bing's Xu Bing tian shu hao rocket Photo: Courtesy of Xu Bing studio

"Xu Bing Tianshu" Rocket Launching Photo: Courtesy of Xu Bing studio

An art exhibition focusing on Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing's sensational project that saw his art get launched into space kicked off on Saturday at Beijing's Red Brick Art Museum. 

Inspired by China's astronautic spirit and achievements, Xu's Art Beyond the Karman Line gathers a large number of artworks, including text, videos and art installations that attempt to explore the symbolism and significance of sending the results of human creativity, in other words Xu's art, into the "unknown" realm of outer space. 

The Karman line is a line that defines the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. Sending art "beyond" this line implies that the artist's imagination is free from all limitations. 

To send his art off-world, Xu collaborated with i-Space, a privately run Chinese space rocket company which launched an "art rocket" into space from Jiuquan in Northwest China's Gansu Province in early February. 

The design of the art rocket was influenced by Xu's most iconic art installation, The Book from the Sky, which he created more than 30 years ago. The artwork featured rows of books and hanging scrolls featuring hundreds and millions of "words" that looked like Chinese characters but were essentially fabricated and meaningless. 

"Xu has always been seeking diversity and alterations to explain how a natural concept can be understood differently. Changing people's stereotypical cultural and social assumptions… The 'art rocket' project too symbolizes art's existence in a territory that is longed for but does not yet belong to humanity," Zhang Yi, an art researcher, told the Global Times.  

Xu's Karman Line project was also influenced by his observations on how China's rapidly developing space program can redefine people's understanding of the limitations of human beings.

He was touched by the spirits of Chinese aerospace scientists and the country's impressive achievements in space travel.  

"In the two years since I started to work on the 'space art' collection, I have learned a lot from aerospace scientists' spirit. They have matured through perseverance in exploration and experimentation. In fact, without the achievements of Chinese astronauts in this field, there is no space where contemporary Chinese space art can be displayed."

The highlight of the exhibition is a work called Where are We, a stop-motion animated film shot in outer space. 

The exhibition is scheduled to end on April 12. 

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