Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ai Wei Wei at The Hirshhorn, Pt I

Ai Wei Wei may now be one of the most famous artists in the world.  See the New York Times article at:

See the CBS news show profile video on CBS Sunday Morning, Jan. 27, 2013 :

He is a prolific Chinese artist who is adept in sculpture, photography, and protest as performance art.  He has combined great contemporary art with social activism.  The Chinese government would not release his passport for the retrospective at The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, which is up until end of February, 2013.

Below are Chinese "Tea Houses" made of real tea!
A beautifully rendered marble sculpture of the surveillance camera that was set up to monitor activities near Ai Wei Wei's studio.

Antique Chinese stools used in unexpected sculptural ways, above.
Below, wood from ancient Chinese temples that were destroyed is used for contemporary sculptures.

Ai Wei Wei at The Hirshhorn, Pt II

Ai Wei Wei was radicalized by the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan.  He went to the province with his team and painstakingly compliled a list of names of schoolchildren and others who were killed.  This informed his art, see below.  The rebar comes from buildings destroyed in the quake; it was straightened for the art piece, which has a cut running through it.  Another piece in the installation is the list of thousands of names of children who died.

Ai Wei Wei was attacked and beaten by the provincial police when doing this work.  He had surgery for cerebral swelling and hemorrhage.

Ai Wei Wei at The Hirshhorn, Pt III

 The sculptures above are 10 feet tall bronze depictions of each animal in the Chinese zodiac year, entitled "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads."  They represent the signs of the Chinese zodiac:  snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit and dragon.  The heads traditionally would only have been viewed by emperors but Ai Wei Wei is making them available to all.
Below, the crabs are finely wrought porcelain.  They commemorate a dinner that Ai Wei Wei put on with a menu of river crabs when the authorities demolished his studio.  The name in Chinese is similar to the word for "harmony," which is used when people are censored.

 Ai Wei Wei was involved in the building of the famous Bird's Nest Stadium for the Olympics in Beijing, but he publicly protested at the displacement and false presentations of Chinese society.  He called the Olympics "propaganda."