Friday, September 13, 2013

Ai Wei Wei in TO

Just before leaving TO I went to the show at the AGO of Ai Wei Wei's work.

As you would expect, it was political, very.

It was also and a very, no massively wide range of mixed media.

It was a good show, though the AGO annoyed me in two ways.  First, they kept saying that Ai Wei Wei constructed the pieces, that he did the joinery work, that he put the bicycles together.  Ai Wei Wei is many things, but he does not, can not and does not have to to do all of the detailed work on all of the pieces he produces.  The sunflower seeds for example were made by a huge number of people.

His stools:

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries. Every family had at least one stool, which served all sorts of domestic purposes and was passed on from generation to generation. After the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966, and the subsequent modernization of the country, however, production of these stools plummeted. Aluminum and plastic have superseded wood as the standard material for furniture. Out of 886 of these stereotyped and yet highly individual objects, Ai Weiwei, recruiting traditional craftsmen who possess the necessary and now rare expertise, has created an expansive rhizomatic structure whose sprawling growth recalls the rampantly proliferating organisms of this world’s megacities. The single stool as part of an encompassing sculptural structure may be read as a metaphor for the individual and its relation to an overarching and excessive system in a postmodern world developing at lightning speed.”— Curator Susanne Gaensheime

This doesn't detract from his work, but the way it was written up not only gives a false impression but fails to describe his process, which often involves hiring many people to engage in disappearing traditional art forms.


The thing about his work is that much of it references Chinese culture, or language or plays on words, which many/most viewers are not going to be able to understand, so providing some background information is useful.  Telling me what to think is, however, deeply obnoxious.  Who WROTE those things????

I stopped reading the second half of all the notes.  Should have taken a picture to give you an example. Dreadful.

and infuriating.

OK, on to my day....

Walking up the AGO, I looked down at the new building for the College of Art with the CN tower in the background.....

The facade of the AGO itself......

Inside the AGO....

And the first piece of his work....this snake made of knapsacks.  He has many many pieces of work about an earthquake that happened in China in which all (?) the schools in a town collapsed and thousands of children died.  The buildings collapsed because they were incredibly badly built, largely as a result of corruption.  Also the gov't was unwilling to say who died nor how many died.  Ai Wei Wei has also worked hard to find out the names of all who have died and one of the pieces in the show was a voice intoning the names of the dead children, that they could find out about.  There was a gigantic list that covered an entire wall.

Houses made of compressed tea.  Smelled amazing, and I am sure the multiple meanings of this are extensive.  Smelled amazing.  Did I already say that?

Stools as mentioned above.

This is made from wood rescued fro Qin dynesty temples, a lot of the work here was from this wood.

This also

This was made from gigantic cabinets and is the phases of the moon.  Very cool.

Made from rebar taken from the area of the quake, manually straightened and made into an installation

On the walk home I got thirsty and stepped into a Korean place where I had a carbonated milk and yogurt drink.  Much better than it sounds, it was mostly carbonated water, sugar, a bit of milk and 'yogurt flavour'.  Hmmmmm.

Walking home I passed through the University, frosh week was in full swing

Saw this guy doing graffiti

Cool day.


elpadawan said...

Guess it's just to show that he's the mastermind, hence the helping hands are just the tools for his craftsmanship. Kinda belittling...
I also hate it when the panels tell you what to think... Kinda ruins the experience... And I'm surprised they let you take pictures. Last time I went I couldn't photograph any of the exhibits.

oreneta said...

I don't know how much you know about Ai Wei Wei, but he puts EVERYTHING on social media. EVERYTHING. He gets in a whole lot of crap in China because he relentlessly posts EVERYTHING:

So if the stupid guard were to not let us take photos that would be completely out of whack with what the artist does and is trying to do, and would probably make him most angry.......

More and more museums are letting it happen now as camera phones make it virtually impossible to flash is often the only rule.