Back on June 1, I went to Brooklyn Museum to visit the Ai Wei Wei exhibit. I actually didn’t know who Ai Wei Wei was (my friend Junqi informed me – thanks bro), but now I know he’s a pretty well-known Chinese artist and political activist who is “highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights” (Wiki). Through his artwork, I could definitely see his social and political views.
One cool installation were these successive, cedar wood boxes, or chests.
When you peer through all of the chests, you see…
Another piece of art – or crime, depending on how you look at it – AiWW is known for is a triptych showing him dropping a Han Dynasty urn. Obviously this action is going to cause a scandal, and it did. I think what he was trying to demonstrate was how people assign value to things; objects on their own have no value unless we give it to them.
I believe this other work, 2 large vats filled, and I mean filled, with pearls, was meant to illustrate the same point. But (ironically) the security guard wouldn’t let me walk around the vats to take pictures – “stay only on this side, please.” So they’re worth a pretty penny after all – ha!
I forgot what the work above was called. But from what I do remember, all the possessions on the wall were everything a woman and her daughter had after getting kicked out of their house by the Chinese government for some kind of dissension.
The installation that struck me the most was this last one. I didn’t know about the goverment corruption and scandal during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that caused the collapse of poorly constructed (and poorly funded) rural schools. Shown below are steel rods from the collapsed school buildings that were individually hammered and straightened out by hand.
Even more impactful was this list of names of students who perished in the earthquake, which covered all the walls in the room from floor to ceiling.
As sad as this installation was to me, I find this kind of art beautiful and touching on a personal level. This, I think, is how we can push for change peacefully.
Thanks for reading!
You can find more of my pictures on my Flickr album.