R is for Repurpose

| May 4, 2014

A work of art that I admire is Ai Weiwei’s Bang installed at the 55th Venice Biennale loccated in the German pavilion, composed of 886 three legged stools arranged into a sculpture. Like much of Ai Weiwei’s artwork this piece is  comment on Chinese society. The themes of the German pavilion were to explore traditional national representation and biography of uniform national identity. Ai Weiwei salvaged these stools. The stools are examples of traditional Chinese craftsmanship used purposely to comment on Chinese tradition and changing cultural values.  Each family used to own at least one stool. The stools used to be handcrafted and passed down from generation to generation but are now merely thrown away. They were once made by hand from wood lasting for centuries, utilized by family members in their homes for generations. One of the comments is that they were never discarded due to a changes in fashion or trends.  This work criticizes he tendency of modern culture to thrown things away, replacing artisans and trained craftsman with factories that use plastic and aluminum.

The sprawling shape of the piece represents the chaos created by the industrial world gone out of control as technology develops at such a high rate. Each of the 886 stools are similar but extremely individualized because they are each handcrafted. The chaos also comments on the growth structures in megacities.

Some pictures of this incredible sprawling, confusing, and slightly menacing otherwordly structure can be seen here.