A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

The Opera of Silence

66x70x67 inches (h x w x d)

Oversize replica of a Beijing opera drum.

"The Opera of Silence addresses "the oppressive benevolence of the United States," represented by the circle of light in the center of the drum where it meets the skull of the staff. Normally the staff would be used to beat the drum; here it is the drum's only support. The bone refers to a Tibetan rite wherein a similar flute, fashioned from a human thigh bone, would be played to call forth a spirit. The white reflective surface on the opposite side of the drum signifies treachery in the Chinese opera." --Exhibition brochure, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 1989.

The Opera of Silence
The Opera of Silence
Source: Exhibition brochure
Image from 1989 exhibition brochure for "Directions" at the Hischhorn Museum (original courtesy of Frumkin/Adams Gallery)
The Opera of Silence The Opera of Silence