ai weiwei: according to what? at perez art museum miami
ai weiwei: according to what? at perez art museum miami ai weiwei: according to what? at perez art museum miami
dec 22, 2013

ai weiwei: according to what? at perez art museum miami


ai weiwei‘s ‘according to what?’ commences the artistic oeuvre of the brand new herzog & de meuron designed perez art museum in miami. the exhibition surveys the world-renowned chinese artist’s opus, demonstrating his broad artistic practice, including sculpture, photography, audio, and video. the works on view at PAMM comprise the last 20 years of his creative breadth, highlighting provocative photography series and large-scale installations for which he is best known. many pieces employ simple forms and methodology that evoke conceptual, ready-made art; others manipulate traditional furniture, ancient pottery, and daily objects in ways that question cultural values and political authority; all intend to emphasize the place of the individual within society.

(above) ‘he xie’ installation view at the perez art museum in miami
(above) image © designboom
(main) image by cathy carver



ai weiwei‘s ground-bound installation ‘he xie’ collects the forms of hundreds porcelain crabs situated in a heap in the main exhibition space of the PAMM – designed by herzog & de meuron. the work is saturated in social symbolism; ‘he xie’ translates to ‘river crab’ but sounds very similar to the mandarin word meaning ‘harmonization’, the state’s euphemism suggesting censorship. the political double meaning evident in the sculptural work is emblematic of the artist’s dexterity in creating metaphorical solutions in art.

‘he xie’ (detial) at PAMM
image © designboom



gymnastic parallel bars function as a frame for ‘kippe’ a three dimensional puzzle consisting of tightly fitted pieces of wood salvaged from qing dynasty temples. this sculpture expresses two of the artist’s childhood memories. according to ai weiwei, ‘during the cultural revolution, there was always a set of parallel bars and a basketball hoop in every schoolyard.’ additionally, when the artist’s family lived in xinjiang region, people in the neighborhood would stop to convey their admiration for the beautifully stacked firewood outside his family home.

kippe, 2006
tieli wood (iron wood) from dismantled temples of the qing dynast (1644-1911) and iron parallel bars
image © designboom

kippe, 2006 (detail)
tieli wood (iron wood) from dismantled temples of the qing dynast (1644-1911) and iron parallel bars
image © designboom



‘moon chest’ occupies the gallery space with its towering, sturdy crates punctuating the room. the series of rectangular wooden volumes are crafted from wood sourced from chinese trees, and are pierced at their core by large holes, one on each side. the specific alignment of the boxes with one another produces a visual reaction for viewers peering inside: the inner pieces coordinate to mimic the phases of the lunar eclipse.

‘moon chest’ at PAMM
image © designboom

a look inside the ‘moon chest’
image © designboom

installation view of ‘according to what?’ featuring ‘dropping a han dynasty urn’ 1995/2009 and ‘colored vases’ 2007-2010



weiwei has layered hundreds of forever brand bicycles to create the towering, monumental installation, ‘stacked’. the multiplication of the reflective surfaces and delicate forms of this everyday object creates an immersive complex maze, an environment which the viewer is encouraged to move around and through. the forever company began producing bicycles in shanghai in 1940, and has since grown to be the leading manufacturer of bikes in china. however rapid modernization is seeing the once-familiar swarms of bicycles disappear from city streets, and the name forever has come to have a nostalgic sentiment. in this work, ai weiwei expands the concept of the readymade to a enormous scale, nodding to artist marcel duchamp and his iconic 1913 ‘bicycle wheel’.

stacked, 2012
680 stainless steel units
image © designboom

‘stacked’ (detail of bikes)
image © designboom



for ‘the coca-cola vase’ — one of the artist’s earliest works using antiques  — ai weiwei has inscribed the iconic soft drink’s logo on pottery jars he found in flea markets, tailoring each set of typographic lettering to the varying jar’s shape. the work blends contemporary design and branding from the global marketplace with the aesthetics and taste of people from many centuries earlier, a pop-influenced remix on an ancient artifact.

coca-cola vase, 2007
neolithic age vase (5000-3000 BCE) and paint
collection of larry wars
image © designboom

designboom caught up with ai weiwei during beijing design week
image © designboom



  • Great article about a great artist, I love his work and I have visited many of his exhibitions. Now I have another reason to go visit Miami

    Alejandra de Argos says:

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