Out of the Dark: Works by Xiaoze Xie online exhibition and panel discussion

November 12, 2020
Joshua Capitanio
Stanford Department of Art & Art History

The Department of Art & Art History will host an online exhibition of new pieces by Prof. Xiaoze Xie, entitled Out of the Dark: Works by Xiaoze Xie. A virtual opening ceremony and panel discussion will be held over Zoom on Wednesday, November 18 at 5:00 PM.

Out of the Dark: Works by Xiaoze Xie is an online exhibition that showcases Xiaoze Xie’s recent paintings from the Library Series, a video, and Forbidden Memories, a research-based project focusing on the history of banned books in China. Virtually displayed to scale in multiple spaces in the McMurtry Building, Xie’s recent work employs a variety of mediums including painting, installation, photography, and video to explore time, memory, history, and the issue of censorship. 

“I think a banned book is a battlefield, a site of power struggle; a banned book is where society, politics, art and literature converge.” For his ambitious project Forbidden Memories (2012–ongoing), Xie has systematically photographed more than 100 premodern Chinese books in various public collections and acquired over 800 books published from the early twentieth century to the present day.

Taking advantage of the online format, Xie has expanded the display of both the photographs and acquired books for this exhibition, making it more inclusive than his previous installations. In the large glass vitrine, life-size photographs of 36 fascinating titles from the early Ming to the late Qing Dynasty (15th-19th c.) exemplify various categories of books banned for religious, philosophical, political, and moral reasons in Late Imperial China. Xie’s installation in the Critique Space creates an immersive environment with U-shape continuous cases displaying a wide variety of acquired modern books, surrounded by wallpaper with endless lists of banned books from the artist’s database.

In addition to the installation and photographs of Forbidden Memories, large-scale paintings displayed in the Coulter Gallery, and the meditative video projection entitled Transience (2011) in the Foyer, further explore the vulnerability of culture in a broader context.

Out of the Dark: Works by Xiaoze Xie will be on view at artexhibitions.stanford.edu beginning Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Join us for the opening ceremony and panel discussion at 5 pm PST. Please register in advance.

The panel discussion will feature Xiaoze Xie, joined by Richard Vinograd, Christensen Fund Professor in Asian Art; Richard Meyer, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History; and Jidong Yang, Head of the East Asia Library at Stanford University. Moderated by Professor Vinograd, the panelists will engage in a public conversation on Xie’s work, the history of banned books in China, and the issue of censorship and its resonance with the current political climate.