Andrew Graham-Dixon interviews Ai Weiwei

October 16, 2010

 The Turbine Room at The Tate Modern houses this unusual installation

Apart from digital art, which I view as a modernisation of traditional art techniques, I cannot say I know a great deal about the contemporary arts scene.

Here to help us however is 3PP favourite Andrew Graham-Dixon. Please watch below a clip taken from a recent special on BBC's Culture Show. The program is available to UK residents at the show's official site, but for those of us outside the UK, here is Andrew Graham-Dixon interviewing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei about his new installation at the Tate Modern in London.

It was interesting to find out that each of the sunflower seeds were individually painted ceramic. From an allegorical perspective, I like AGD's feeling that they are meant to represent people - each one individually different, but possessive of an overall unifying identity. My understanding also is that unlike when first unveiled, people are now no longer able to walk over the seeds.

Please find the clip below. I know it's not the usual dose of what you expect from 3PP, but I'm happy to use any excuse to present the wonderful Andrew Graham-Dixon, unravelling art for us in his characteristic fashion. I like his initial response to discovering the seeds... "art critic stumped!"


For some extra commentary and more video by Andrew Graham-Dixon on this installation, please visit this article at the Telegraph UK.

Next time AGD appears at 3PP it will be in somewhat more familiar territory, for me anyway. Thank you to everyone who expressed interesting in seeing this clip via email and the 3PP twitter feed this post was for you!

2 comments:

M said...

What a fun installation! I was not familiar with it before this clip. I was really disappointed to learn in the article that the Tate no longer allows people to walk on the "seeds." That seems to defeat the purpose of the installation, but I understand their reasoning.

The little seeds loosely reminds me the candy installations by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (such as this one). I like the idea behind both installations, but I especially like that there is an element of craft in Weiwei's work: all of the seeds are hand-painted.

H Niyazi said...

Interesting parallels with Torres work M! I think it is at once the beauty and perhaps curse of contemporrary art in that seemingly commonplace objects like seeds or candy become symobolic of things that require observers and critics to interpret them.

In Weiwei's case the seeds are a commentary on Chinese society, whereas Torres licorice pieces are analogous with a statement on the nationalism fueling the Gulf Conflict.

This extra step in qualifying new levels of symbolism is perhaps what makes contemporary art more daunting to some. Having learnt the traditional icons and attributes of art from the last 2000 years, the feeling is that we're being asked to start afresh - something I'm sure some people can not do easily!

I will admit, it's not as pretty as a Raphael to me personally, but I enjoy the thought exercise required to make ones way through this new visual language. Interesting stuff!

H

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