Neolithic Coca-Cola

Ai Weiwei
Neolithic Culture Pot with Coco-Cola Logo, 1992

Ai weiwei

Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1994

Ai weiwei coca cola

Dropping a Han dynasty urn (detail) 1995

Ai weiwei dropping an urn

Ai weiwei dropping a vase

Chinese artist and architect Ai Wei Wei uses the skills of craftsmen to transform antique Qing dynasty (1644-1911) furniture into mysterious objects that no longer have a clearly defined function. Ai is a conceptual artist in the Dada tradition, there is no doubt that showcasing the technical virtuosity of his hired minions is low on his agenda. Yet their superb skill is inextricable from his work; it is their expertise that allows his ideas to shine through. According to Ai ‘By changing the meaning of the object, shaking its foundation, we are also changing our own condition. We can question what we are.’ Shoddy workmanship would have distracted from the strange authenticity of Ai Wei Wei’s creations; we need to believe in their purposelessness in order to be persuaded to examine our own. – Tracey Clement

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