How Art tells a Story

calligraphic art  1

This art work is suspended in the atrium of the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art and was made by Chinese artist Xu Bing.
What is the title and the story behind the artwork?
Can you identify some of the languages used in the sculpture?
What language is not associated with a specific country?
Why did you think the artist uses languages to convey his message?
The following link may be useful in your research.
http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/XuBing.asp
Kind Regards Dr Mackey

32 thoughts on “How Art tells a Story

  1. very confusing, what is it supposed to be?????????????

    1. Hi Tim …. it is a sculpture that uses text from different languages to tell a story, Regards Dr M

  2. Dear Dr Mackey
    The Answer to Q1 is: Xu Bing is the artist and the art piece is called “Monkeys Grasp For The Moon” and this piece of artwork is based on a Chinese Folktale.
    The Answer to Q2 is: Some of the languages included in this is braille( a language used by people that are blind),, Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew are also languages that are included In this sculpture
    The Answer to Q3: I’m not certain about this answer and I also don’t like to quit , so I think the answer is braille because there is no country that is 100% blind and braille doesn’t have a “country origination”
    The Answer to Q4 is: Maybe the artist Xu Bing considered different cultures/ types of people when he was designing or inventing this piece of artwork

    1. Dear Gilbert , well done on your correct answer.
      Yes the sculpture includes braille, Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew . Good on you! Braille is a language that is not specifically attached to a country . Regards Dr M

  3. Dear Dr Mackey
    The Answer to Q1 is: Xu Bing is the artist and the art piece is called “Monkeys Grasp For The Moon” and this piece of artwork is based on a Chinese Folktale.
    The Answer to Q2 is: Some of the languages included in this is braille( a language used by people that are blind),, Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew are also languages that are included In this sculpture
    The Answer to Q3: I’m not certain about this answer and I also don’t like to quit , so I think the answer is braille because there is no country that is 100% blind and braille doesn’t have a “country origination”
    The Answer to Q4 is: Maybe the artist Xu Bing considered different cultures/ types of people when he was designing or inventing this piece of artwork
    ( I might have already sent this but it said duplicate comment detected – just making sure)

  4. Hello Dr Mackey

    Q1- the title of the artwork is ‘Monkeys Grasp For The Moon’. The story behind it is that it’s a Chinese folktale which a group of monkeys attempt to capture the moon. Linking their tails and arms, they create a long chain reaching down from a limb of a tree to the moon, only to find that it is only a shining reflection on the surface of a pool lying beneath them.

    Q2- the languages include Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Hebrew and English.

    Q3- The language that are not associated with a country is braille.

    Q4- this question is a big challenge for me but here are some reasons I think:
    Because Xu wanted to make his artwork appeal to many people in many countries, also to convey the important lesson to a wider range of people not maybe just Chinese people.

    thank you!

    1. Hello Greer

      You are correct that work is called ‘Monkeys Grasp For The Moon’ and you have identified the languages used.
      You are right , braille is not attached to one country and the artist may have used this to suggest that his message is important to a range of people around the world.
      Regards Dr Mackey

  5. Hi Dr Mackey,
    The language in the artwork, Monkeys Grasp for the Moon, that does not belong to a specific country is braille. This language is used by blind people all over the world. Some other languages that are used in this artwork are Indonesian, Urdu, French, Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew. The story behind this piece of art is that a group of monkeys attempted to capture the moon. Linking arms and tails, they formed a chain reaching down from the branch of a tree to the moon, only to discover that was a shimmering reflection on the surface of a pool lying beneath them. The artist used different languages to convey his message as the message would appeal and be delivered to many more countries than it would if it was just in one language.
    Thanks Mary.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Well done . You are right in remarking that braille is used by blind people all over the world and some of the other languages used in this work are French, Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew.
      The artist has conveyed a fabulous story that the world would be a less complex place if we understood each other. Keep up the great work , Regards Dr M

  6. Hello Dr Mackey,
    The different languages are: Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew, Braille Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English
    The title of the artwork is: ‘Monkeys Grasp for the Moon’
    The background story is that the group of monkeys are trying to get to the moon, but soon discover that it is just a reflection from a shimmering pool beneath them. The message of the Chinese folktale is that what you strive to achieve may be an illusion.
    I think that the artist uses different languages because it would appeal to all different people.
    The language that does not belong to a specific country is Braille.
    Thank you for the questions, I really enjoyed them!

    1. Hi Lou Lou,
      Well done on identifying the different languages as including Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew, Braille, Hindi, Japanese, French. Braille is the language that does not belong to a specific country and you are correct that the artist was trying to convey a global message.
      Regards Dr Mackey

  7. Hi Dr Mackey,

    This sculpture is called Monkeys Grasp for the Moon.

    I found a website that had the story of this piece:

    It Quotes “The idea for this installation came from a Chinese saying “monkeys grasp the moon” which alludes to an old folk tale about a group of monkeys who tried to capture the moon. Viewing the reflection of the moon on a pool of water from their place on the branch of a tree, the monkeys decided to link their arms and tails together to touch what they thought was the real moon. When at last they touched the moon, it vanished in the ripples of the water. This fanciful yet instructive tale reminds us that what we strive to achieve may in fact be an illusion. ”

    Some of the languages include Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Hebrew and English. There is also Braille.

    I believe He did it in all different languages to make it seem like he was conveying a worldwide message.

    Mattea

    PS: Is this the last one?

    1. Hi Mattea ,

      Yes you are correct the sculpture is called “Monkeys Grasp for the Moon”.

      It is a great story that you have found on line. I am sure you are right that that artist was conveying a worldwide message.

      Yes this is my last blog as I am back in Brisbane at the QA next term , Regards Dr M

  8. It is called Monkeys Grasp for the moon by Xu bing.
    The story is an old folk tale about a group of monkeys who tried to capture the moon. Viewing the reflection of the moon on a pool of water from their place on the branch of a tree, the monkeys decided to link their arms and tails together to touch what they thought was the real moon. When at last they touched the moon, it vanished in the ripples of the water.
    Some languages used are Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Hebrew, English and Braille.
    The language not associated with any country is braille witch is a language used for bling people that have dots and patterns on them to recognise letters.
    The artist might use different language to convey that it is a world wide message and that the whole world should recognise this message.

    1. Hi Daniella .
      You are correct , that artwork is called “Monkeys Grasp for the Moon” by Xu Bing – and it is an old Chinese folk story.
      Braille is the language not associated with any country as it used for blind people who are all over the world and you are right that the artist was conveying the idea that the whole world should understand their situation . Regards Dr Mackey

  9. Hi Dr Mackey
    Here are my answers for the questions
    Q1. Monkey grasps for the moon. By Xu Bing the story is about a tree of monkeys deciding to join arms and tails to try to grasp for the moon.
    Q2.The languages it is written in are Indonesian, Urdu, Braille, Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Hebrew and English.
    Q3. Braille. Because it belongs to the whole world. Braille is a language of dots representing a certain word to help blind people read objects and things like that.
    Q4. This this artwork is written in quite a few languages to convey the message to the globe. It is also part of a collection called Wordplay.

    1. Hi Charlie , Great work pointing out that this artwork was a part of an exhibition called Wordplay and is called
      “Monkey Grasps for the Moon”.
      The artist very thoughtfully uses all of the languages you mentioned including Braille, because as you suggested Braille represents people all over the world.
      Regards Dr Mackey

  10. Hi Dr Mackey,

    1. The title of the piece of artwork is “Monkeys Grasp for the Moon”,by Xu Bing. This piece of artwork is inspired by a Chinese folktale where monkeys, in order to capture the moon, form a chain from the branch of a tree down to a pool below. As they dangle down, they finally realise that it was only a reflection in a pool of water. This tale reminds us that what we strive to achieve may just be an illusion.

    2. Some languages that are identifiable are Arabic, Italian, Afrikaan, Chinese, German, Korean, Russian, Nepali, Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew, Braille, Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Vietnamese and English. This piece of art belongs to his exhibition “Word Play” and all the pieces have something to do with communication.

    3. Braille is not associated with any country. It belongs to the world, and anyone can use it.

    4. I think Xu Bing used all different languages to convey one message to show that it applies to not just the land of the origin of the folktale, but should remain a reminder to everyone to check that what dream you are chasing is legitimately able to be a reality, as your dream could possibly be a false impression, or plain make-believe. It could also show that word play can artistically get a message across, even with indirect communication.

    1. Hi Olivia,

      You are right the work is called “Monkeys Grasp for the Moon”by Xu Bing- who was inspired by the od folk tale.

      You are correct in listing the languages used as the work is definitely about communication- and Braille is used all over the world.
      I love your thoughts about using indirect communication to make a point clear .
      Keep up the great work ,
      Regards Dr M.

  11. The Title of this artwork is Monkeys Grasp for The Moon, By Xu Bing. The story behind the artwork is an old Chinese folktale, about a group of monkeys who attempted to capture the moon. They attempted to complete this feat by linking arms and tails to form a monkey chain reaching down to the ground, where they saw the moon, only to realise that their ‘Moon’ was only the shimmering reflection of the actual moon in a pool below their tree. The moral of this ancient tale is that we often waste time on goals that are unrealistically challenging. Some of the languages in the sculpture are:
    • Chinese words or letters
    • German
    • Braille
    • Nepali
    • Arabic
    • Italian

    One of the languages incorporated in this sculpture that does not strictly belong to a country is Braille, the language of the blind, which is for all people, everywhere in the world.

    I think that this artist (Xu Bing) used languages to convey his message, so that a greater majority of people entering and exploring in the museum would understand his message, but also because it belongs to his exhibition named Word Play, so the entire collection was centred around languages and communication.

    1. Hi Marielle, You are right in identifying the artist and the name of the artwork and that it is about that idea that we often waste time on goals that are unrealistic. You have made a good point that language and communication are central to the big idea of the whole exhibition.
      Regards Dr Mackey.

  12. Hello Dr. Mackey,
    What is the title and the story behind the artwork?
    The title is monkeys grasp for the moon and the story behind the artwork is a Chinese folktale and a few monkeys link there arms to try and grasp the moon but when they reach it they realize that it is just a lake with the reflection of the moon on it. The artist is Xu Bing
    Can you identify some of the languages used in the sculpture?
    Arabic Chinese German Japanese Indonesian English, Hebrew French Spanish Korean Africans Italian Russian Hindi napalm
    What language is not associated with a specific country?
    Braille

    Why did you think the artist uses languages to convey his message?
    He uses different languages because it would appeal to more and a larger range of people.
    Thank you for your question. Are you doing any more question? I have enjoyed them very much.\
    Kind regards
    Jorja

    1. Hello Jorja,
      You are right the work is called ” Monkeys Grasp for the Moon ” and contains shapes of letters of many languages including Braille to show tat the artwork speaks to people all over the world.
      This was my last question as I will be back at QA next term , so thanks so much for being a part of the blog! Regards Dr Mackey

  13. For Q1 the answer for part one is “Monkeys Grasping For The Moon” and part 2 is that the monkeys think they see a moon so they all join heads and tails to find just a pond.
    For Q2 some languages are English, Chinese, German, Japanese, Koran, Italian and Russian.
    For Q3 the answer is Braille witch is a blind person language.
    For Q4 it is so that the message can spread around the globe.

    1. HI Matthew , You are right the artwork is called “Monkeys Grasping For The Moon” and is made up of many languages including Braille which can be used all over the world.
      Regards Dr Mackey

  14. Hi Dr Mackey,
    The answers to the questions are:-
    Q1 The title is Monkeys Grasp for the Moon and the story is that a group of monkeys try to capture the ‘moon’ so they chain up and reach down when they realise that it is only a reflection.
    Q2 The languages are English, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, French, Indonesian, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish, Korean, and others.
    Q3 It is Braille because braille is a language of dots for the blind and is used all over the world.
    Q4 I think so because he might have expressed the monkeys’ teamwork with the different languages.
    I found Q4 really really HARD!!!!

    1. Hi Peter,
      I think you have come up with a brilliant answer that you think that the artist expressed the monkeys’ teamwork in different languages. Some times when you think the question is hard it makes you come up with a very creative answer. Well done!

  15. Dear Dr Mackey,
    The language that is not associated to a specific country is braille. The artwork is titled “Monkeys Grasping For The Moon” by Xu Bing. The story behind it is that there is the word monkey written in different languages, including Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish , Hebrew and English as well as Arabic, Chinese, German, Indonesian, Korean, Italian, Africans, Russian, Nepali.
    The Stories background is an old folk tale about a group of monkeys who tried to capture the moon. Viewing the reflection of the moon on a pool of water from their place on the branch of a tree, the monkeys decided to link their arms and tails together to touch what they thought was the real moon. When at last they touched the moon, it vanished in the ripples of the water.
    The artwork features in his expedition “Word Play”
    He uses many languages to appeal to most people that will encounter the artwork.
    Annabel

    1. Dear Annabel,
      Well done on pointing out that the language that is not associated to a specific country is braille. The fact that the artwork features in his expedition “Word Play ”is important . That is a great idea that you think many languages will appeal to a wide range of people. Regards Dr Mackey.

  16. Dear Dr Mackey,

    This is an image of the sculpture “Monkeys grasping for the moon” by the Chinese artist Xu Bing. It is now hanging in the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art. This sculpture alludes the old folktale about how when monkeys saw the reflection of the moon in the pool of water from up high in the branches of their tree they decided to link tails and try to touch “the moon”. Of course, when they at last did touch it, it disappeared into the ripples of the water.
    Each link of the chain holds the word monkey in an international languages, Hindi, Japanese, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Nepali, Chinese, Braille, Italian and English are only some of them!
    English is not associated with a specific country but it has a lot of different countries that speak that language such as Australia, America, England and probably a lot more than that.
    I think this art is told in a lot of different languages to set a moral to the old folktale and Xu Bing wants everyone to know about it.

    Josephine

    1. Dear Josephine,

      You are right , this artwork is now hanging in the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art at the Smithsonian . It is amazing that the links show so many languages and Xu Bing used the languages to share the important messages in the story. Regards Dr Mackey

  17. Hi Dr Mackey
    Q1. The title of this artwork is Monkeys Grasp for the moon. The story behind this piece is ‘a Chinese folktale in which a group of monkeys attempt to capture the moon. Linking arms and tails, they form a chain reaching down from the branch of a tree to the moon, only to discover that it is a shimmering reflection on the surface of a pool lying beneath them’
    Q2. There is Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, English, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Afrikaans, Russian, Hindi and Nepali
    Q3. Braille is not associated with a specific country for it is a worldwide ‘language’ for the blind.
    Q4. The artist (I think ) conveys the message of how we are all connected.

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