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Long-Distance Swimming

An excerpt from Gu Xiong — The River, the catalog from an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: The First Nations were not the only marginalized peoples whose claims on place and whose histories were suppressed by acts of naming. Alan Haig-Brown reports, as a “well hidden fact of BC history,” that from the[…]

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Immigration, Community-Based Art & Pedagogy

This article is an excerpt from the catalog which accompanied the installation of Coquitlam Waterscapes in the Evergreen Cultural Centre, from December 1, 2012 to January 19, 2013. Immersion in the community surrounding each installment is paramount to the meaning and accuracy of Xiong’s work as can be seen with his communication with Councillor Fred Hulbert of[…]

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Karaoke Hyperspace

Karaoke Hyperspace: Gu Xiong’s Red River as a study of Placemaking was originally published in the fall 2008 issue of the Yishu Contemporary Art Journal. Instead of resting on metaphors of here/there or homeland/site of resettlement, Gu’s exhibition becomes a deep meditation on constant mobility in the physical and virtual realms of contemporary life. In her recent study of[…]

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What is Waterscape?

This essay is an excerpt from the catalog for Waterscapes, an exhibition at the Richmond Art Gallery written by Chris Lee. In recent years, multimedia artist Gu Xiong has been exploring how rivers shape the economic, cultural, and imaginary lives of migrants in China and Canada. This work, writes April Liu, offers “a deep meditation on constant mobility[…]

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Re-Imagining the Politics of Place and Migration

This essay is an excerpt from the catalog for Waterscapes, an exhibition at the Richmond Art Gallery. Mainstream narratives commonly portray the experience of migration and settlement as a profound break from the past, compelling one to either adopt unfamiliar values and customs or fiercely protect an ethnic culture under siege. The everyday lives and sensibilities of immigrants,[…]

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Waterscapes: Working Notes on Globalization

This article was first printed in the Winter 2012 issue of  The Capilano Review, “ecologies.”  In their preface to Cultures of Globalization, Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi write, “Globalization falls outside the established academic disciplines, as a sign of the emergence of a new kind of social phenomenon” that “seems to concern politics and economics in immediate ways,[…]

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The Symbol of the Mountains

Mountains have a specific meaning to the Chinese. They are one of the elemental Taoist symbols, and featured prominently in landscape painting. In the Taoist imagination, the high mountain peak is where the Taoist “mountain man” absorbs the bright yang air of heaven, and meets the constellations face to face. “Moving the mountain” does a[…]

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The Self and Confirmation

“Cultural Identity” has become a catchphrase nowadays. In English, the phrase is often heard of. When translated into Chinese, however, it becomes foreign and strange. It reminded me of the Chinese citizenship ID card for no apparent reason. When I was an “educated youth”, even though I was a proud “communard”, I didn’t have a[…]

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Lifeblood

The Yangzi River flows out of the mountains in the Qinghai Plateau, rushing through valleys and plains, coalescing with the vast Pacific Ocean. A river dashes out of the cosmic order of ancient Chinese philosophy. The red wall of the gallery, through embodying multiple connotations, reminds one of the lifeblood and magnifies the immeasurable energy[…]

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Global Adventure in Migration

Gu Xiong’s art practice is an absolute global adventure if we look at his experiences as a whole. The key word in his adventure is migration. Forty years ago, the abruptly resumed National College Entrance Examination allows Gu Xiong –back then a sent-down youth in the countryside of Southwestern China – to become a university[…]

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Gu-Xiong, 1991: The Crusher

While revealing his sketches for a proposed series of paintings based on crushed cans, Gu Xiong said that common objects look dead, and are only made to come to life when they are “Killed.” A neat irony, one that can take off in many directions. Discarded cans of pop, cafeteria trays, dirty kitchen utensils (his[…]

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Preface: What is the Meaning of Tomato?

“Tomato” (in Chinese Xi hong shi西红柿) is an ordinary object. To make ordinary objects unordinary, one of the methods is adopting the method of pop art. Through pop art, mundane daily objects are endowed with meanings, meanings in art history. “The medium is the message,” and the medium is the extension and broadening of human[…]

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For Ge Ni, the Canadian…

We know it was hard but we can never know how hard for how hard could it be for a woman with such a smile?   In Canada, when two cars collide we call the people inside accident victims.   In Canada, when two cultures collide we call the people in them immigrants.   Both[…]

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Migrations – I am who I am

Let us take a rational and direct perspective to look at artist Gu Xiong and his art: he was passionate and restless in the 1980s; In the 1990s, his thoughts turned to immigration and identity; Around the 2000, he initiated dialogues and made comparisons based on a new cultural identity; In the past decade, his[…]

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Toward the New Frontier

This essay is an excerpt from the catalog for Red River, an exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Our understanding of place, history, time, identity, and memory is increasingly undergoing transformation within the new economy and culture of globalization. This landscape of shifting spaces of local cultures is caught up within rapid economic, political, and technological change. Globalization is[…]

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Gu Xiong: Migrations

She reminded me to think in dreams. Somewhere there is a sketchbook, a collection of drawings of landscapes and lakes, maybe icebergs, ragged pine trees, undulations of granite, expanses of wilderness. Snow, maybe a sleigh, possibly a church in a rural village, the images are small but detailed, exquisitely executed in pencil and ink on[…]