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Keywords School • Venice
4 – 21 June 2009

Participating Project
in Making Worlds
53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Create the content by defining the meaning of keywords!

Since 2006 the Chinese artist Xu Tan researches ‘keywords’. Xu Tan, born in Wuhan, Hubei Province in 1957 and currently living in Guangzhou, is working like a social theorist. By interviewing and discussing contemporary art, social life and culture, he analyses the meaning of keywords in the context of the people's backgrounds.

During the 'Keywords School' the artist, who insists on his lifestyle as 'outcast' to maintain sensitivity to the changes in social life and culture, reinvestigates the meanings of selected words together with 10 participants per day. In the new public space the meanings of the keywords are further transformed.

You can work on keywords without any set goals! Therefore Xu Tan has elaborated a structure of a course which begins with the invitation to express the own opinion on the 'daily keywords' such as "develop; environment; car; move, movement; restlessness; revolution; body; city (city life, city structure); safe, safety" (course 10 June).

You are creating the content Then the artist starts the free style communication between him and the participants. Every keyword is a medium to trigger different individuals to take part in certain conscious activities. The public flow of consciousness constitutes the main content of the ‘Keywords School’. The interactive discussions from the 'Keywords School' in Venice will serve as research material for the forthcoming of the keywords project.

Apply now! Dive into the deep ocean of life and social development! The recruitment for the ‘Keywords School’ runs until 31 May 2009!

Watch the video: 'K,NY03' of the project 'Searching for Keywords' by Xu Tan. Interview with artists. By

"By interviewing these artists and studying these interviews, I try to find the “key words” in the talk and work out their frequency by the record. The key words are chosen from nearly all spoken sentences in the talk, mainly the contents words (i.e. function words like mood words are excluded) that expressing meaning and important in the narration, that representing substantive meaning or playing a leading role in the sentence, that with a focal meaning in the semantic structure and the speakers intended meaning generated around." Xu Tan about the project "Searching for Keywords"

Navigate on Xu Tan's website to 'Searching for Keywords' and learn more about the interviewing technique of the artist to analyse keywords in context with personal lifestyle, contemporary art, and the consciousness of the world we are living in. On you can find a multimedia dictionary with animation, video, audio, graphics, interview excerpts from the artist. It seems as if the online dictionary is a work in progress; in May 2009 the analysis of the words love, body, restless, safe/safety... have been published

Source: Original article with image and video on


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