Lectures

Dragonfly Eyes: What Counts as Art Today?

2018–2019 Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture in the Arts
Xu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes, 2017. 81min, color and sound. Copyright Xu Bing StudioXu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes, 2017. 81min, color and sound. Copyright Xu Bing Studio

The world-renowned artist Xu Bing will join in conversation with the Harvard faculty members Eugene Wang RI ’17, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art, and Jennifer L. Roberts, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts at the Radcliffe Institute and Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities.

Xu’s work reflects on the simultaneous power and fragility of the visual and textual systems that hold societies together. Working at the forefront of Chinese contemporary art, he has focused with particular intricacy on the challenges of translation between East and West. The discussion will delve into the range of Xu’s art and its multifaceted impact on the global contemporary art world.

The program at the Radcliffe Institute will be preceded by a screening of Xu’s recent film Dragonfly Eyes (2017), a work of fiction composed of surveillance camera footage sourced from streaming websites, at the Harvard Film Archive on Monday, October 15, 2018, at 7 PM.

For further information on the film screening, please see https://library.harvard.edu/film/films/2018sepnov/dragonfly.html.

Free and open to the public.


Speakers/Moderators:

Xu Bing, artist

Jennifer L. Roberts, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Radcliffe Institute, and Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Eugene Y. Wang RI ’17, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Xu Bing is a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, in Beijing, and an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a US Department of State’s Medal of Arts, he first rose to international prominence following the creation of Book from the Sky (1987–1991), an installation of volumes and scrolls assembled using traditional Chinese printing and bookmaking techniques but featuring illegible, imaginary characters. His work since has included printmaking, bookmaking, installation art, sculpture, film, and digital media and has been displayed at the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Venice Biennale, and other major institutions and exhibitions.