Rather than say what the pieces in the show mean to me, I’m going to record some ideas that went through my head as I looked.
Snake made of school backpacks
Backpacks were strewn all over the disaster site, after the school earthquake collapse. I wonder what the serpent symbolizes in Chinese culture. How clever! How well made! The head is sculpted into shape, as is the tail. Multitudes of people working together. Mass production. Industrialization.
Han dynasty pots dipped in paint
The garish, bright new colours cover old shapes. The old shapes makes the drips and dribbles run the way they do. Sometimes the pots have been turned upside down while the paint dribbled and dried, then turned right side up again. The new and the old. Old defaced. Behind, picture sequence of Ai Weiwei dropping, smashing an ancient pot…and having the act preserved in a photo, framed and shown in a gallery. Preserver/destroyer.
Stacked rebar, once twisted, now straightened, recovered from school earthquake disaster
A memorial on display, but on international tour… or is it on parade? Imagine the work of straightening these bars! Imagine the installation on such a display. The cost, the machinery, the manpower. Do they set it out the same way every time? Are they insane? The stacks make mountain range images… or tectonic plates. A reference to the shifting forces that destroyed the school? Mightier forces than the corruption blamed for the collapse of the school and the deaths of all those children?
3 legged stools, assembled into a spiral
I really like the way these stools are made, especially the crossbars. They are just ordinary stools, but exceptional in themselves. A spiral. How dynamic for something you’re supposed to sit on. The thing explodes. 3 legs are the most stable. Mass production, rustic wood.
“Forever” brand decal on the crossbars. All hooked together in an eternal circle, no handlebars to steer with, no pedals for power. Beautifully useless. Now the Chinese drive cars and we are getting back onto bicycles.
Big. Quite nicely made. So you look down the hole and see the phases of the moon. Seems like a lot of trouble to go to. Wonder what you see if you look through the top holes? Nobody’s that tall.