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Act Of Vandalism . . . Or Is Turnabout Fair Play?

Ai-Weiwei

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#1 bciskepottery

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 07:44 AM

Video clip shows it all.

http://www.cnn.com/2....html?hpt=hp_t2

#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:02 AM

Ai Wei Wei is one of the biggest names in Contemporary Art and recognized for his political activism. For another artist to intentionally destroy his work as a political protest NOT in the vein of his repertoire of being a cubist painter makes me think he is grabbing publicity rather than making a statement.

#3 ChenowethArts

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:07 AM

I get the artist's statement of protest...it is his work and his cultural context.  I view the exhibit visitor dropping the piece as disrespectful to the artist. I vote 'vandalism'.

 

It may be just me, but I raised my eyebrows at the $1 million tag...really? Wow!


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#4 BeckyH

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:21 AM

At least a piece by Ai Wei Wei is replaceable, somewhat. Unlike the piece Ai dropped as a statement. Destroying the irreplaceable for political commentary is no more commendable than destroying current work is.

#5 clay lover

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:43 AM

My motto is keep your hands off other people's work no matter what it is.



#6 Tyler Miller

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 11:38 AM

Self-righteous jealousy.



#7 Davidpotter

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 01:36 PM

Your rights end where mine start. You can protest all you want but when you damage property you are vandalizing.


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#8 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 04:20 PM

At least a piece by Ai Wei Wei is replaceable, somewhat. Unlike the piece Ai dropped as a statement. Destroying the irreplaceable for political commentary is no more commendable than destroying current work is.

I am not sure the piece he dropped was the real thing. The description said "it appeared to be". He is a master sculptor and capable of making a look alike. I like to think that anyway.

#9 bciskepottery

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 08:04 PM

Today's Washington Post had an interesting article with comments from the person who has organized a show at the Hirshhorn Museum (part of Smithsonian) on art and destruction: 
 

After an art attack on Ai Wei Wei works: Hirshhorn leader discusses the line between art and vandalism

By Philip Kennicott February 19 at 8:00 am

On Sunday, a disgruntled artist in Miami entered the newly opened Perez Art Museum and broke a vase included in a 2007-2010 work called “Colored Vases” by Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei. Maximo Caminero, who was arrested, cited as inspiration another work by Ai currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum as part of the exhibition “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950.” That work, a series of three photographs with the self-explanatory title “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,” shows Ai in the before, during and after of destroying a ceramic piece that could be more than 2000 years old. Ai has justified his destruction of the Han urn as an effort to call attention to larger issues of cultural destruction and commodification in contemporary China.

I spoke with the Hirshhorn’s interim director Kerry Brougher, who organized the exhibition, about whether there is a difference between the destructive “art” defined by Caminero, and the destruction of a cultural object by Ai.

For me, I think there is a huge difference. Ai Wei Wei, I believe, has owned in one way or other the things that he has destroyed [in his art]. The Han dynasty vase was an acquisition of his, he owned the piece, and decided to destroy it. [Caminero] was destroying someone else’s property. That strikes me as a form of vandalism and not a form of art.

But how would you explain to, say, an art student who was inspired by your show to value the inherently creative aspects of destruction, who believes that maybe there isn’t a hard-and-fast line between vandalism and creative destruction?

The problem is one of authority. Does one have the authority to actually destroy something and thereby make a statement that is intelligent and can be communicated to the public? … An example would be Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased De Kooning,” [a work included in the exhibition, in which Rauschenberg meticulously erased a preexisting drawing by the then more famous and acclaimed artist Willem de Kooning]. He asked de Kooning for the work, and permission to destroy it. It is still a destructive gesture, but [Rauschenberg] had the authority.

That’s an example in which the artist explicitly asked for permission. But aren’t there examples of more purely destructive, or anarchic works in this exhibition?

I don’t think so. Never say never, but I think in the show I believe all the physical acts of destruction were done to objects or things that the artist owned [or made], or they were not objects of art to begin with, such as Rafael Ortiz’s piano [for the exhibition’s opening the artist Rafael Montanez Ortiz reenacted one of his “Piano Destruction Concerts” and the resulting heap of piano scraps are on display in the first gallery of the exhibition]. I can’t think of an example in the show when an artist destroyed an art work that they didn’t actually own.

Was that a guideline for inclusion in the exhibition?

We didn’t set guidelines when we were working on the show, but I think that it was pretty clear to us the difference between an act of vandalism and an act that could be an art work… Clearly the works that we picked for the show [met that standard]. I’m not even sure I can think of an artwork that is out-and-out vandalism that I would personally consider an actual art work.

I wonder about the perhaps related question of graffiti, when an artist assumes the authority to place their work into the public realm.

Graffiti art wasn’t something that we were particularly interested in [for this exhibition], primarily because… in doing graffiti art you aren’t actually destroying another work of art, in most cases anyway. You are painting over surfaces of the city or streets, or walls, or whatever, but that wasn’t something we were interested in terms of Damage Control. [Graffiti is a different thing] from the Chapman brother’s Goya, “Disasters of War” [a work in the exhibition by Jake and Dinos Chapman, entitled “Injury to Insult to Injury,” in which they added cartoon-like figures to an original set of etchings by Francisco de Goya].

But what of the larger philosophical question: Can an artist assume on his or her own behalf the authority to “improve” public space?

It would be in the eye of the beholder, in terms of whether the painting being produced was art or not. I think there are probably examples of both. Really it is [a question of whether] all of us in the art world were certain graffiti art was art, or an act of vandalism.

Do you think Caminero succeeded in drawing attention to his cause [which was to demand more representation of local artists in Miami museums]?

I don’t understand how this act was going to help the cause. I don’t think he had the authority to destroy this piece, but even if he did, I don’t think that the act equated [with his message]. He is acting pretty much on his own.



#10 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:34 PM

Excellent article. Thanks for posting.I have been moved by Ai WeiWei's work over the years. He work on many dimensions.


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#11 Benzine

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:48 PM

I'm with Marcia on this one.  Sounds like someone trying to draw attention to themselves.  Odds are, the number of internet searches for the guy's name, went up dramatically, once this story ran. 


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#12 justanassembler

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:37 AM

why cant it simultaneously be an act of vandalism, and art?  Art doesn't have an intrinsic moral value, negative or positive...



#13 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 08:48 AM

http://hyperallergic...o-vase-dropper/
Here is another article. In the first destruction of the Han Dynasty pot, it belonged to Ai Wei Wei. He used it as part of a performance protest piece.

http://hyperallergic...o-vase-dropper/

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#14 BeckyH

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:30 PM

Interesting that the idea of ownership makes one ok and the other not ok. Destroying an irreplaceable object, especially one of some cultural significance, is still wrong in my opinion.
After all, it's not like anyone was unaware that the Chinese government has been destroying the country's cultural history wholesale since the 1940s.
But then, I get upset when musicians break instruments on stage at the end of a set. It shows a lack of respect for the makers of the object that I dislike.

#15 neilestrick

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:20 PM

$1 million? For that one vase? Does that mean the entire installation was worth $15 million? They said the vase was several thousand years old. So was the value of the vase based on its age, or because of the way the artist used it, or because of the fame of the artist? Had the piece actually sold for that much?

 

As for vandalism or art, it's both. And incredibly ironic. No, it's not right for someone to destroy someone else's work like that. But let's face it, destroying the valuable work of someone who is known for destroying valuable work is pretty good stuff. Plus Ai put house paint on a bunch of ancient vases, essentially destroying someone else's work to make his own. I would be  more upset if he had actually made the vases himself and put some effort into it.


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#16 Babs

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:19 AM

$1 million? For that one vase? Does that mean the entire installation was worth $15 million? They said the vase was several thousand years old. So was the value of the vase based on its age, or because of the way the artist used it, or because of the fame of the artist? Had the piece actually sold for that much?

 

As for vandalism or art, it's both. And incredibly ironic. No, it's not right for someone to destroy someone else's work like that. But let's face it, destroying the valuable work of someone who is known for destroying valuable work is pretty good stuff. Plus Ai put house paint on a bunch of ancient vases, essentially destroying someone else's work to make his own. I would be  more upset if he had actually made the vases himself and put some effort into it.

That's not a  vase it's a VESSEL.

Waste of the planet's resources either way.



#17 levoslashx

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 11:25 PM

I'm a bit disappointed he stopped at one, I was hoping he'd go for the lot.  Anyhow, this is going to direct a slew of folks to Ai Wei Wei to investigate his art/message.  And perhaps he and his message will become more widely known among the hoi polloi instead of being confined to academia. He should give this fellow a high five.  Maybe they could have a priceless artifact destruction party or somesuch.



#18 Evelyne Schoenmann

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:44 AM

I'am with Neil. I think putting house paint on a 7000 year old vase is a vandalism too.

 

It's not ok to break no-matter-what if it's not in my possession (ownership). But not everything in my possession is free to vandalism and destruction. I'am not sure whether Ai got the house paint off of the vase/vessel again....


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#19 Benzine

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 05:58 PM

Artists are weird......
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#20 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 08:47 PM

$1 million? For that one vase? Does that mean the entire installation was worth $15 million? They said the vase was several thousand years old. So was the value of the vase based on its age, or because of the way the artist used it, or because of the fame of the artist? Had the piece actually sold for that much?
 
As for vandalism or art, it's both. And incredibly ironic. No, it's not right for someone to destroy someone else's work like that. But let's face it, destroying the valuable work of someone who is known for destroying valuable work is pretty good stuff. Plus Ai put house paint on a bunch of ancient vases, essentially destroying someone else's work to make his own. I would be  more upset if he had actually made the vases himself and put some effort into it.

That's not a  vase it's a VESSEL.
Waste of the planet's resources either way.

In the linked interview, Ai said the estimated value of $1 million was grossly exaggerated. Ai has been under house arrest in China for years.
Please read the informative links.
Marcia




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