Beverage (The Venus of Willendorf)


Resin, mineral pigments

165 × 130 × 224.5 cm

With its cross-contextual reorganization of distinct visual symbols, the “Beverage” series expands XU ZHEN®’s attempts at transforming civilizational experiences with contemporary concepts. Across the sculptures and paintings in the series, ancient Greek pillars, as a symbol of human civilization, are planted onto various classic imageries in Eastern and Western cultures, including Classical sculpture, Chinese blue and white pottery, and scholars' rock. While displacing themselves isomorphically with straws, these pillars defamiliarize and tease whatever it is they insert into, rendering it both out of place and abreast of the times. The artist uses the everyday action of “sucking” as a metaphor for the interactive relations within humans’ cognition of civilization in the post-globalization era: for instance, the search for a future out of history, the conjuring of illusion by the East and the West of each other, and, not least, the symbolization of the uncertainty and dynamism of contemporary reality.

The Venus of Willendorf is a Venus figurineas- sociated with the Upper Paleolithic Gravettian industry and estimated to have been created 25,000 and 30,000 years ago. Similar sculptures are traditionally referred to in archaeology as "Venus figurines", due to the widely held belief that depictions of nude women with exaggerated sexual features represented an early fertility deity. However, the figurines predate the mythological figure of Venus by many thousands of years.In XU ZHEN®'s work, ancient Greek pillars, as a presumed symbol of civilization, are planted onto the figurine's head, making it a metaphor of how a civilization, especially one constrained by preexisting scopes of perception, wonders about, disciplines, and even remodels its own origins. The viewers are reminded of how human beings choose certain symbols over others as tokens of civilization, as well as how we can "suck" out from the past a re-under- standing of the present and a re-imagination of the future.

Beverage (The Venus of Willendorf)

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