Audio Guide Stop #13 We The People
One of the key themes of the Triennial is that cultures and nations are the beneficiaries of cultural exchange and dialogue. This special project within the Triennial takes inspiration from the historical reality of how the founding leaders of this country had sought inspiration from classical Chinese civilization. Entitled We the People: Xu Bing and Sun Xun Respond to the Declaration of Independence, this project is guest curated by Dr. Susan L. Beningson. This display is anchored around a rare official copy of the Declaration of Independence dating to 1833 from the Dorothy Goldman Tapper Foundation. As one of our nation’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence reaffirms the legacies of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. Two Chinese artists, Xu Bing and Sun Xun, who have spent time working in the United States, were commissioned to produce works responding to these ideals. Xu Bing used a copy of The Analects by Confucius, a text that profoundly influenced the nation’s founders as they crafted the Declaration, to make a work commenting on the fragility of such manifestos. Sun Xun created a twenty-four-page folding album that borrows from Chinese painting traditions to illustrate the fiery dynamics through which new worlds are born or established norms are broken. Displayed together with this copy of the Declaration of Independence, these objects encourage us to contemplate the meaning of democratic values, especially pertinent during a presidential election year here in the United States.