Witte de With Contemporary Art
Xin Kedu (New Measurement Group)
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Xin Kedu (New Measurement Group)

Xin Kedu (New Measurement Group) was active between 1989 and 1996. It consisted of Gu Dexin (Beijing, 1962), Chen Shaoping (Beijing, 1947), and Wang Luyan (Beijing, 1956).

Like Ni Haifeng, the members of Xin Kedu belong to the first radical post-Mao generation in Chinese art. Founded in 1988, the New Measurement Group made its first appearance at the groundbreaking exhibition China Avant-Garde at the National Art Gallery in Beijing, in 1989. Denying the validity of artistic self-expression the group aimed to erase all traces of subjectivity from their art. Meeting on a regular basis, the three would adopt rules with the goal of regulating every aspect of artistic creation, from the type of drawing tools to working procedures. Between 1990 and 1996, the group produced five books that bear witness to the deconstruction process through which objects, human behaviors and situations are transformed in pure graphs. In late 1995, in view of the conflicts created between its radical founding principles, and the inevitable absorption of their work by the art system, the group called a final meeting and decided to destroy all its documents and drawings as a final ‘measurement’ required to terminate its mission.

Arbeitsbuch III was originally meant to appear in 1994 as Xin Kedu’s work for a joint exhibition with German artist Günther Uecker, a member of the European Zero Group. The exhibition was organised by van Dijk in cooperation with the Goethe Institute, and was to take place at the Hanmo Art Gallery in Beijing. As part of his artist’s statement, Uecker had written an open “Letter to Beijing”. Xin Kedu took this letter as the point of departure for the making of Arbeitsbuch III where it is gradually transformed into a graph. Because Uecker’s letter mentioned human rights, however, Xin Kedu was forbidden by the authorities to take part in the show. In cooperation with Alexander Tolnay, director of the Haus der Kunst in Berlin, the show took place there in 1995 instead. Arbeitsbuch III, which had not yet gone to print, was published for this show.

Arbeitsbuch IV was Xin Kedu’s work for the exhibition Configura 2, Dialog der Kulturen, in Erfurt, Germany, in 1995. The work is based on cooking recipes of original dishes from the participating countries (see the Arbeitsbuch itself). Hans van Dijk was the curator/consultant and organizer of the Chinese part of the show. At the opening of the show, the members of Xin Kedu prepared dishes from the recipes.