Thanks to all who participated in this little word game. Actually, you guys are right on the mark! The characters read:
Take out the hairpin,
See the reflection of the stream.
Lie in bed with books around,
Wake up to comb hair, half drunk.
– Xu Bing
These lines are adapted from a Tang-dynasty poem by Yu Xuanji 魚玄機 (842-72) titled, “Curing Yourself of Lovesickness” 遣懷.
Contemporary art and high fashion have long been partners-in-crime. Browsing the September 2011 issue of Vogue, I was delighted to come upon contemporary artist Xu Bing 徐冰 in one of the editorials! Xu is pictured here with a modeled Calvin Klein Collection shift, which, in my opinion, is a perfect pairing of a master of line and form in fashion (Klein) with a master of line and form in calligraphy (Xu). In fact, we are hoping to have Xu participate in our upcoming Chinese calligraphy exhibition (so, fingers crossed!).
The writing here is unique. Xu developed a writing system that manipulates the English alphabet letters into the structure and appearance of Chinese characters. The writing system debuted in 1994-5 with his artwork Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy. With this system, the artist is investigating the extent to which the text (in any language) can be communicated as a symbol.
Deciphering Xu’s writing system is actually a fun game. So, I have a challenge for you: can you read the English that appears in this photo? You will need to view this photo in a mirror, unless you are skilled in reading backwards English. And I promise, these are English words. To give you a clue: the words in red read: “Xu Bing.”
I will return in a month to give you the answer. Happy decoding!
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