Artists create artworks with the intention to communicate meaning and represent their ideas with the audience. The intentions may be to share something personal about themselves, it may be to express their point of view, it may be to reflect the world they live in, but no matter what the intentions are, the concept behind the work is the driving force for the artists to communicate their meaning through process, material, the body and/or even time-based practises. for the artists to communicate their meaning through process, material, the body and/or even time-based practises. Ai Weiwei is one of the most well-known contemporary artists in today’s society.
Weiwei is many things and uses multiple forms of media. He’s an artist, filmmaker, photographer, furniture dealer and designer. The thing he is most famous for according to the Ocula Art Advisory is his ‘criticism of the Chinese government (known for punishing ascendants)’ (Albrecht 2018). Weiwei has created multiple controversial artwork in his time on earth which has affected his life and lives of others quite dramatically. Some of his artworks include Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, Sunflower seeds, and Weiwei cam. In one stage of his life Weiwei’s Beijing studio ‘Zuoyou’ was demolished by Chinese authorities with no precautions (Graham-Harrison 2018). This is just one example of the effect his artworks have of the people and the extent Weiwei goes to share his controversial meanings and messages with the world.
Ai Weiwei was and still is one of the greatest provocateurs of all time. His artwork ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’. Ai Weiwei once said, “General Mao used to tell us that we can only build a new world if we destroy the old one” (Editors 2017). Weiwei was and still is one of the greatest provocateurs of all time. His artwork ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’ was created to criticize the Chinese Government and fight for freedom of expression. By using a 20-year-old ceremonial Urn as his victim he has unquestionably caught the attention of others especially of Chinese citizens who were the majority hurt by Weiwei’s clear political message. Many called this an act of vandalism and disrespect. ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’ is a simple but effective looking artwork with large amounts of meaning behind it.
In the three photos he has placed himself in the centre of each in front of a plain brick wall making him and the urn the main focus. In his artwork Ai Weiwei’s stance and actions are similar to a child doing what you told them not to do just for the reaction, teasing the audience and not caring about the consequences at the time. He is wearing simple clothes in the photographs and his face has no emotion. This also allows his actions to become more highlighted. Evidentially materials used such as the Han Dynasty Urn and the placement of himself within the photos have allowed him to generate his own scandalous meaning to the audience. The placement of himself within the photos have allowed him to generate his own scandalous meaning. When you first take a look at Ai Weiwei’s artwork all you see are hundreds and thousands of sunflower seeds but what you see is not what you.
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