ai weiwei fills berlin's martin-gropius-bau with 6,000 wooden stools
original content
apr 03, 2014
ai weiwei fills berlin's martin-gropius-bau with 6,000 wooden stools


ai weiwei fills berlin’s martin-gropius-bau with 6,000 wooden stools
(above) stools, 2014
wooden stools
image © ai weiwei / photo © reschke, steffens & kruse, berlin/köln

 

 

ai weiwei: evidence
martin-gropius-bau, berlin
april 3rd, 2014 through july 7, 2014

 

 

chinese artist ai weiwei is presenting ‘evidence’ his largest one-man exhibition to date, taking over 3,000 square meters in 18 rooms of berlin’s martin-gropius-bau. displaying new installations designed specifically for the german show, the catalog of politically driven works features monumental pieces emblematic of his artistic oeuvre. 

 

at the centerpiece of the exhibition is ‘stools’, an installation amassed of over 6,000 wooden stools from ming and qing dynasties and the republican period, which have been gathered from villages across northern china. a basic household staple, each seat reveals traces of use and wear-and-tear, with their solid, simple structure that speaks to an unchanged design language for hundreds of years. ‘stools’ forms a surface, a sheet of wooden matter, by connecting individual pieces together and covers the tile floor of martin gropius-bau’s atrium.

ai weiwei installs 6,000 wooden stools in berlin for evidence
stools, 2014
wooden stools
image © ai weiwei / photo © reschke, steffens & kruse, berlin/köln

ai weiwei installs 6,000 wooden stools in berlin for evidence
stools, 2014
wooden stools
image © ai weiwei / photo © reschke, steffens & kruse, berlin/köln

 

 

‘souvenir from shanghai’ is deeply embedded in personal and political history. the installation is made from materials from a site in malu town, jiading district, where ai weiwei was invited by district authorities in shanghai to build a studio. however, just as construction was completed, he was informed that the building would be destroyed, a chastening for his increasingly outspoken criticism of the government. pieces from the ground were collected and reappropriated into the sculptural work.

ai weiwei installs 6,000 wooden stools in berlin for evidence
souvenir from shanghai, 2014
concrete and brick rubble from ai weiwei’s destroyed shanghai studio, rosewood bedframe from qing dynasty (1644-1911)
380 × 170 × 260 cm
image © ai weiwei / photo © mathias völzke

 

 

from the colored vases series, ai weiwei covers eight neolithic vases in metallic auto paint. their smooth and pristinely reflective surfaces obscure the luster and texture of the ancient vases concealed below. solid colors from the standard chromatic palette used on mercedes-benz and BMW automobiles, and the lust for power they symbolize in chinese markets, create an interesting contrast with the form of the historic pieces. the addition of surface paint both disrupts and preserves the original, and asks us to consider how we determine the real significance of history and civilization.

ai weiwei installs 6,000 wooden stools in berlin for evidence
han dynasty vases with auto paint, 2014
vases from the han dynasty (202 b. c. – 220 a. d.) and auto paint
image © ai weiwei / photo © mathias völzke

 

 

the diaoyu islands are the backdrop for an intense ongoing territorial dispute that has stirred patriotic fervor in both china and japan. the carved marble work takes the namesake of the small archipelago, and conceptualizes the geopolitical debate into a cartoonish mass. the monumentality of the installation continues ai weiwei’s investigations of scale, material, and transforming reality into a tangible experience.

ai weiwei installs 6,000 wooden stools in berlin for evidence
diaoyu islands, 2014
marble
image © ai weiwei /photo © mathias völzke

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