A Beijing Chinese born, contemporary artist and political activist Weiwei has made a name for himself by creating visually and thought-provoking art. His subject matter; the Chinese government and their stance on democracy and human rights,
Weiwei displayed colorful vases in the museum which appear to be antique vases from the Han Dynasty in China.
In the background of this display is a video of the artist dropping a vase himself.
This incident recently came back under my attention. I see several things to debate about in this incident:
I firstly question the validity of the origin of the vases. How did he come by such antique vases? There was 15 on display.
Whether the vases were true of fake do not really matter in the bigger scheme of things, but the idea of destroying them to protest an ideology is disturbing.
Let’s suppose that it is true Han Dynasty vases.
I believe that if they were original vases, every brushstroke on those vases is an act of destruction.
In truth Ai Weiwei do not protest against the Chinese government but he serves only himself, because he and not the Chinese government get the attention. That is confirmed when he mentioned to CNN that he did not get much attention from this incident.
On the other hand he is destroying some of the inheritance of China: the true culture on which that country was founded, BC. Maybe not physically, but definitely morally.
Whether the vase that Weiwei broke in 1995 in the video was fake or not, the example that he sets is very unwise. Who are we as artists to think we can make and break the world like he believes he can do? Will that not make us just like those that destroy art museums and churches and monuments in the name of war?
If the vase that he dropped in the video was fake as some says it was, I have more reason to question the fact that any of the vases that he covered with paint are truly 2000+ years old. If the one he dropped was fake I have full reason to question any of his other words or actions.
I and other artists believe that honesty is the most important element of any art expression and we want people to identify with what we do. I cannot identify with Weiwei and although I do not agree with the action of Maximo Caminero, I cannot agree with those painted pots either. Weiwei, in my opinion set the example and instigated the incident of destruction in the first place.
Pete Pinnell recently said on Facebook that when a work of art has survived 2000 years, no person can claim it, but only possess it. If those vases that Weiwei painted were true Han Dynasty vases, Weiwei should have been responsible enough to have them in a safe place for generations to come and not painted them for his own attention.
Unfortunately we live in an age where it is difficult to build and unfortunately too easy to destroy.
What is your opinion about that?