Ai WeiWei has collected "things" both ancient and contemporary from China, scouring flea markets, rescuing from derelict buildings for the priceless, valueless, functional, broken, decorative, mass produced, artisan made but all reconfigured for a new audience.
Stunning floor "exhibits" or "fields" elevating the extraordinary or everyday into stunning artwork. These include my absolute favourites made from over 4000 Stone Age tools, museum quality pieces but picked up cheaply, extraordinarily layered 250,000+ broken Song Dynasty teapot spouts (made a thousand years ago but destroyed by the craftsman if not perfect) and brightly coloured machine made Lego bricks layered underneath beautifully repurposed and quintessentially Chinese carved wooden temple tables and columns.
Other favourites of mine are the strangely compelling wall-mounted snakes, one made from children’s backpacks, dedicated to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the other made from life vests dedicated to the victims of the European refugee crisis. Powerful stuff!
The framed ink on paper exhibits are both beautiful and gentle yet a powerful graphic monument bearing the "names" (each are stamped in an ancient script using hand-carved jade stamps or "seals") of victims and this is again dedicated to the shocking statistic of the 5,197 school children who died in the 2008 earthquake. Stunning yet profoundly sad.
Dotted throughout the exhibition are glass cases showing items including a workers hard hat made of glass, an iPhone carved in jade and a Han Dynasty urn with a large painted Coca-Cola logo adorning its ancient form.
Many more amazing unique collections, sculptures, videos, photographs and fragments are thrilling yet thought provoking. A fabulous exhibition that would appeal to many ages.
PWT Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Ai Weiwei: Making Sense is at the Design Museum from 07 April to 30 July 2023