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PRINT January 2007

Xu Zhen

IN AUGUST 2005 word began to spread through the Chinese art community that the Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen had scaled Mount Everest and, what’s more, managed (with a band of expert climbers) to saw off the top 1.86 meters of the mountain’s peak. A month later, this icy trophy became the pièce de résistance in the artist’s installation 8848-1.86 at the Yokohama International Triennale of Contemporary Art in Japan—preserved inside a refrigerated vitrine surrounded by video and photographic documentation of the climb as well as by the team’s equipment. The natural reaction among audiences was, of course, to doubt that the evidence was real, even if the artifact’s presentation conjured a seeming veracity (one thinks of those installations found at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles). Yet soon it was audiences’ own distrust that was cast into doubt: Only a month after the

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