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The Macan Museum

The Macan Museum

The Macan Museum has done it again. Jakarta’s local museum of modern art presents Jakarta with another fantastic exhibit. The museum presents the art of Xu Bing, who was born in Chongquig, China, in 1955. This current installation spans four decades of his works including concepts, film, typography and drawings.

Xu Bing began studying printmaking in 1977. He was a student at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1981 and then a Master of Fine Arts in 1987. Since then, he has lived in both the United States and China. He claims both New York and Beijing as his current residences and places of work.

Book from the Sky

His most noted piece is available for viewing at the beginning of the display,  Book from the Sky. This piece took four years to create and is one of his more well-known works. It is impressive to view and is a must-see while visiting the exhibition. Near to Book from the Sky is Honor and SplendorHonor and Splendor is a floor rug made of cigarettes alternating between filter-up and filter-down. Visit the museum to see the total cigarettes used. The piece covers a large part of the floor and is worth seeing. The installation is an integral part of a larger concept known as The Tobacco Project


One part of the exhibition was an interactive writing section. In this part, visitors follow a color-by-number style suggestive path with a writing brush. A great feature is as the paper dries the ink fades for another patron to participate in the display. This display allows the visitor to be a part of the exhibition and participate.

Interactive Display

The exhibition also includes several video presentations for visitors. There are places to sit and watch the entire presentation. During one part of the exhibition, there is a large video display with an animated short playing in a loop. At another location, another video is of a male and female pig in a large pen. The ground of the pen is covered with books, and the pigs are decorated with inked symbols and characters. The final video is a composite of CCTV streaming videos telling a story. The material for the film is from various live streams. This film gives new meaning to Shakespeare’s old phrase, “All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

When finished with the Xu Bing exhibition, go upstairs and view the rotating display owned by the museum. It is worth the time and effort and rounds out a museum visit nicely.

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