Warp, Weft, and Way

A Group Blog of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy

Confucius in Contemporary Art at Useless Tree

FYI, Sam Crane has a great post over on his blog about the “Q Confucius” contemporary art exhibit in Shanghai.


January 12, 2012 - Posted by | Art, Confucius


  1. I’m speechless. Also, I can’t decide which representation of Confucius I prefer more–the gigantic animatronic bust in pool of water, or the lurching robot in cage with live monkeys?

    Comment by Tim | January 12, 2012 | Reply

    • The pool of water one, for me, suggests something about self-reflection; also reminds me of the fact that Confucius approves most, from among his disciples’ plans, the one to bathe in the River Yi in Spring with some men and boys and go home singing afterward (Analects 11.26). My guess, though, is that the artist is looking more at some kind of base human quality, below the layer of culture and ritual, “ecce homo!” or something like that.

      The lurching robot with monkeys is intriguing. I like it! But I don’t know why yet.

      Comment by Manyul Im | January 12, 2012 | Reply

    • re: lurching robot Confucius — I’ve been staring at the video for a while (slow mind day for me); I’m starting to get the impression of Confucius as puppet, tool — vessel? — of sundry forces, compressed into a herky jerky, inelegant mode of manipulation… (I think this is about when Woody Allen turns to the camera in Annie Hall and calls himself out for art-appreciation b.s.)

      Comment by Manyul Im | January 12, 2012 | Reply

      • What’s next from Zhang Huan, I wonder? A smoking Buddha?

        Comment by Tim | January 12, 2012 | Reply

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