Xu Bing – Phoenix, MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA, 2013
Photo: Hideo Sakata
Chinese artist Xu Bing spent two years creating his work, Phoenix. The installation features two monumental birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in urban China, including demolition debris, steel beams, tools, and remnants of the daily lives of migrant laborers. It is a beautifully crafted symbol of the complex relationship between the labor force, accumulation of wealth, and history of China.
The internally illuminated 12-ton birds are suspended mid-air, dwarfing viewers; the male Phoenix Feng measures 90 feet long, while the female Huang reaches 100 feet in length, beak to (steel) tail feathers. Xu Bing is widely considered to be among the prominent Chinese artists of today.