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XU BING: CHINA'S MARLBORO MAN?

May 18, 2011

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Tobacco and contemporary art -- they’re made for each other. After 12 years visiting Virginia tobacco farms, cigarette factories and the Philip Morris manufacturing center in Richmond, Chinese artist Xu Bing unveils his third “Tobacco Project” this fall at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Sept. 10-Nov. 27, 2011. [Image: Xu Bing printing on a tobacco leaf, 2000]

The artist’s exploration of China’s historic exportation of American tobacco in the 19th century led him to present his first “Tobacco Project” at Duke University in 2000 and then another in Shanghai in 2004. He’s concerned with the powerful industry’s impact on tobacco as a form of social exchange, but the exhibition’s not all death and disease: “Xu Bing brings his usual wit and insight to his work with tobacco, as well as his sense of craft and showmanship,” said VMFA curator John Ravenal.

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