press release

This exhibition of the work of internationally acclaimed artist Wenda Gu consists of two site-specific installations, both from ongoing series. Forest of Stone Steles: Retranslation and Rewriting of Tang Poetry, comprised of twelve stone steles and their accompanying ink rubbings, presents Tang dynasty poems in their original form, translations of the poems into English, phonetic transliterations back into Chinese, and finally retranslations through literal meaning into what Gu calls “post-Tang” poems in English. For the artist, the problem of translation, often resulting in misrepresentations and misinterpretations, becomes a phenomenon for the translation of cultures, where misunderstandings are necessary to create the new.

United Nations is an ongoing worldwide art project that, since its inception in 1993, has comprised more than twenty site-specific installations held in thirteen countries on five continents. For the Johnson Museum installation, two large hair screens, each consisting of a circle of pseudo-Chinese characters referring to the Chinese zodiac, are accompanied by an audience-interactive DVD cartoon based on traditional stories of the twelve earthly branches and how certain animals came to represent the zodiac.

Wenda Gu
Forest of Stone Steles