One of Us Is On the Wrong Side of History!


Light-box Xu Zhen

One of Us Is On the Wrong Side of History!, Xu Zhen (1977, China) focuses on the visual identity of Witte de With’s past exhibitions as well as its archive of posters. As such, this work brings to light not the artworks shown at Witte de With during the past twenty-five years, but rather the wording and design, which mediated them. The archive is read and revealed as a sprawling visual poem made up of fragments and traces of voices past. In the vein of his Metal Language series, Xu Zhen extracts fonts and layouts from their original contexts and reproduces them using metal chains.

On the floor, these chains sculpturally represent select titles and logos of Witte de With programs. Shimmering like jewels but weighing down on the physical foundation of the institution, the choice of metal shackles reflects the ambiguity of history itself: it is a treasure and a burden. The display, on the other hand, shows images taken from the Metal Language series (2012) and shows select sentences from political caricatures. The “bling” of the chains along with the many exclamation marks evoke the chaos of wall tagging and protest-graffiti, where many individual statements are embedded into one larger image.

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