I was fortunate enough to have some free time earlier today evening, and headed over to the Martin-Gropius-Bau to catch the Ai Weiwei (@aiww)exhibition titled Evidence. This is the first time I’ve seen Ai Weiwei’s work as I missed it at the Tate Modern in London a while back.
He is a modern artists. Playing around with a lot of different materials to come up with his artwork. And he makes use of the Web. I guess his claim to fame is that he’s all for freedom of speech & expression (something that’s hard to do in China – a dissident he is, if you must), and the fact that he’s a documenter of modern happenings (everyone is interested at the amazing pace of growth in China – he shows that by video recordings of highways, or driving around and recording his journey as an example).
For me, I was really moved by Zodiac Heads (Circle of Animals). I would so grab the rat, tiger and dog as examples!
China in ten years (I first went to Beijing in 2004 – it has changed a lot in a decade) has become a lot more materialistic. The car of choice used to be the Audi; it still is, but you find a lot of other luxury vehicles on the roads nowadays in Beijing. So the Han Dynasty vases painted with metallic paint from BMW & Mercedes was great for cultural insight. Culturally, the want of antiques is also high and the Table & Chest with stripped chairs was also interesting – remove 1mm sheen from Ming Dynasty furniture and they look like new. What is the purpose of antiques again?
I enjoyed his Study of Perspectives (a selection at moma) as well. He goes to famous landmarks and takes a photo with his left middle finger.
He portrays the disputed islands (between China & Japan). I loved the stools because they each tell a story (6,000 of them). I enjoyed his re-enactment of how he was held captive by the Chinese authorities for some time. It’s shocking to see how you would sleep with a light on, always be watched by security guards and have everything covered up – where you have to do your own laundry and the only thing you get are 6 hangers. Its sad to see that his studio in Shanghai was demolished at a moment’s notice – but he made artwork out of it. He showed the evidence that was confiscated (lots of laptops/video recorders/PCs).
A protest pre-demolition involved river crabs (he xie). Guess that’s the beauty of the Chinese language :)
If you get the chance to check Ai Weiwei’s work out, its well worth it and will take you a good 2 hours (read a review in The Economist). You can’t take photos inside, but you will leave with a lot of memories. If you can’t see this one in Berlin, check out a video: Ai Weiwei – Dumbass. At five minutes long, it makes my video of the week.