The author, said to be an agent of the Ministry of Culture, condemned Xu’s printed pages and scrolls [ed: Book from the Sky i.e. Nonsense Writing], which covered the exhibition hall, as gui da qiang, a folk idiom meaning a wall (qiang) built (da) by a ghost (gui) to encircle a night traveler. No matter how fast the traveler runs, he is actually going in circles within the wall’s invisible confines. Ironically, for Xu Bing this analogy had a more direct and literal reference: since 1987 he had been experimenting with making rubbings from the Great Wall, and he was working on a scaffold built for that purpose the day the official critique was published. Now this ongoing art project gained new significance. Because this project aimed to (re)construct the Great Wall with ink-rubbings, it could be called “da qiang” (to build a wall). Alternatively, since the character da also means “to beat” or “to pound,” the act of making those rubbings, by repeatedly pounding an ink pad over a sheet of paper held on the Wall, could be described as “da qiang” (to pound a wall). Such a realization inspired Xu Bing to entitle this project Ghosts Pounding the Wall (Gui Du Qiang). With a crew of students and peasants, he labored for twenty-four days to make prints from a thirty-meters-long section of the famous Wall. The project was planned and conceived as a grand “art happening”; as Xu put it, “I hope to experience the process of expending great effort for a ‘meaningless’ result.”
— WU Hung, “A ‘Ghost Rebellion’: Notes on Xu Bing’s ‘Nonsense Writing’ and Other Works,” Public Culture 6 (1994): 411-418.