On Friday afternoon, 40th and Walnut transformed into a stage for a somewhat enigmatic public art performance titled I-Ching by Chinese artist Huang Rui. Organized by the Slought Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania, the show was a part of Chinese artist Ko Siu Lan’s monthlong exhibit at UPenn.
Huang took to the street with 64 black and white umbrellas. Each umbrella had a chinese character written on it, along with its rough translation in English.
The umbrellas each represented one of the 64 hexagrams which comprise the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese book used for divination.
While holding one umbrella himself, Huang stopped for 64 seconds to talk to each person who had picked up one of his black and white umbrellas. Whoever had chosen to hold one of the other 64 umbrellas, had to do so for 64 minutes. Eventually, the umbrellas spread out almost a block in length.
The performance piece intended to show the connectedness of the human experience as well as the cultural differences between China and the West.
Although confusing for passersby, those who did stop to watch were at least able to appreciate the spectacle, “I think it’s hard for people walking by to understand what the goal of this is, but I still enjoyed taking in the scene,” said Chris Burcheri, a Penn sophomore.