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28 Chinese

The Man on the Chair
by He Xiangyu (Chinese, b. 1986)
Eleven wood chairs

Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
© He Xiangyu.

Please feel free to sit in these chairs.

He Xiangyu's chairs are made from abandoned wooden aqueduct pipes that the artist collected in southwest China. The pipes were crafted from trees by the Dongba people, who believe in humanity's harmony with the natural world and discourage wasteful use of natural resources. Reclaiming this discarded wood, He Xiangyu presents a grove of chairs that calls attention to nature's transformation through cycles of decay and regeneration.

"The group of empty chairs evokes an ambiguous yet tenacious sense of collective fatalism. Hence, I produced a four-chapter dance piece, respectively titled "tristesse," "agony," "despair," and "rebirth." The dance recounts the story of men who were born among the group of empty chairs; they amuse and fall in love with one another, until one day they realize they can no longer leave the chairs—leaving would cost them their lives." —He Xiangyu