Tag Archives: Ai Wei Wei

“ART IS AN AMAZING WAY TO DEAL WITH LIFE”

– Interview with Tessa Praun (Sweden)

When did you start curating? Tell us something about your educational background and curatorial experience?

Curator Tessa Praun with Ai Wei Wei at his ateljé in 2010/ Photo by Magasin 3

 I started curating for real on my current job, the private art foundation Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall. My background is in the Humanities Study Program and Art History at Stockholm University. I did my final internship at IASPIS (International Artists Studio Program in Sweden), an artist in residency program that really got me interested in contemporary art. From there I moved on to shorter experiences at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and as assistant curator at Kunstverein München, amongst others. In 2004 I started as assistant curator at Magasin 3 and became curator two years later. Since then I have curated exhibitions with artists such as Miroslav Tichy, Christian Boltanski, Annika von Hausswolff, Marijke van Warmerdam, Ai Weiwei, etc. and have done collaborative projects with other art institutions in Europe and been working with Magasin 3:s own collection.

What is your personal relationship with Ai Wei Wei and his work? How did it come about that you got to curate his show at Magasin 3?

I was very taken by Ai Weiwei’s project “Fairytale” that he did for Documenta XII, this impressive idea to invite 1001 Chinese people to come with him to Kassel in Germany in the summer of 2007. It is a fantastic social multi layered project that lives on through stories that are being told as well as through physical remaining parts with an amazing visual strength. Experiencing this work in Kassel made me read more about Ai Weiwei and follow the work he did after.

In 2010 I was in China and had the chance to visit Ai Weiwei in his combined home and studio in Beijing. This was in a time when he was already very pressed by the Chinese authorities and he had just been under a three days house arrest when we met. Meeting him in his own environment and under these pressing circumstances effected me strongly and coming back to Stockholm I invited him to have the exhibition here at Magasin 3 this spring.

Fairytale (dormitory) by Ai Wei Wei 

Tell us more about the Ai Wei Wei exhibition. What has been your main role as a curator of the show?

From the beginning I knew that I did not want to make a retrospective exhibition, instead I wanted a selection of works that focuses on China as synonymous to mass production and Ai Weiwei’s concern for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. Ai Weiwei did the first selection of works that he and I then discussed and added to. Only a few months into working together, in the beginning of April 2011, he suddenly was arrested and kept detained on no legal grounds in an undisclosed location. Not knowing what was going to happen, if and when he would be released, me and my colleagues had to decide how to move on. Together with Ai Weiwei’s assistants we came to the conclusion that the best thing that we could do in that situation was to continue the preparations of the exhibition, it felt even more so important to show his work and make his voice heard. Despite my deep concerns for Ai Weiwei’s situation I had to focus as much as I could on completing the exhibition and do so in the most respectful way.

World Map by Ai Wei Wei

Can you explain the importance of the reading room being a part of the Ai Wei Wei exhibition? Why emphasize on all that information?

At the point when Ai Weiwei was detained and couldn’t be part of the preparations of the exhibition anymore, I felt it was important to give our visitors a deeper insight into Ai Weiwei’s situation, why he is on a collision course with the regime and consequently has become so known also outside the art world. So I developed a reading room. A physical one in the actual exhibition space, side by side with the artworks. It includes reading material, a sound archive where various people contributed with their stories and reflections on Ai Weiwei, interviews and documentaries on and by Ai Weiwei. But also a digital one, a special homepage gathering articles, documentaries, the sound archive, filmed documentation of all panel discussions that we have arranged in connection to the exhibition etc. in order for people to explore his work both as an artist, activist, blogger, architect. He himself does not really distinguish these roles. I found it interesting to bring this up through the reading room. Both the physical and digital reading room have proven very useful and much appreciated.

Video work by Ai Wei Wei 

Do you think new and digital media used in contemporary art has brought new aspects to arts and curating? Yes or no, explain why.

Well yes, I think since these new media are part of society today it is only a natural development that also artists explore them and art institutions adapt them in communicating with the audience. In some cases art can be brought closer to the viewer through various new media and attract those who are hard to reach in a more traditional manner. In our part of the world we live in a time with a tremendous fast pace. It is important that art can both adapt to these new circumstances but also offer a brake from just that. The content has to be the driving force otherwise the experience will be lost completely. It is a challenge for both artist and curator to find the right balance.

Stool by Ai Wei Wei

Photographs by Konsthopp

What qualities do you think a good curator should have?  

A good curator knows how to both support and challenge an artist, is curious and open minded, dedicated to the project and flexible to deal with different characters and situations under time pressure : )

From your point of view, how does the future of professional curating look like? What are your personal wishes, hopes and perspectives on your future curatorial plans?

My main motivation for being a curator is to learn more about life. Being close to art is an amazing way to deal with life, to explore notions of the present, history and future, to be inspired to thoughts and feelings. If I can transmit this also to other people then I think I am doing something good.

1 Comment

Filed under Ceramic Art, Conversation, Curator, Curator Talk, Documentary, Fine Art, Installation, Political Art, Sculptures, Sociopolitical art, Stockholm, Textile Art, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

AI WEI WEI

On-going: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012, Magasin 3 (Stockholm)

“Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one’s imagination — and perhaps more importantly — creativity is the power to act. Only through our actions can expectations for change become reality, and only then can our purported creativity build a new foundation, and only then is it possible to draw out human civilization.”

Ai Wei Wei

Ai WeiWei — a Chinese artist, activist, curator, blogger & architect — concerns for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. The on-going exhibition at Magasin 3 shows a selection of his works, focusing on his monumental installations and political work — Chinese socialism, mass production and global trade. In his work, Ai Weiwei often refers to pre-revolutionary China and its cultural and craft traditions. He seeks out iconic objects with great cultural and symbolic value for the Chinese, and then deliberately treats them with complete disregard for its worth or intended function. The artworks can be seen as commentary on the disdain that Mao’s Cultural Revolution showed the past as well as a way for Ai Weiwei himself to dispatch with conventional notions about art and its value.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing. He co-founded the avant-garde artists’ group Stars at the end of the 1970s before moving to New York in 1983. There he was a leading figure in the community of exiled Chinese artists, writers and musicians and became an active member of the American intellectual and artistic scene. In 1993 Ai Weiwei returned to China where he has worked not only as an artist, but also as a curator, architect and blogger. In recent years his activism for social change in China has increased, making him one of the most outspoken critics of the regime. In October 2011, he was named number one in the ArtReview annual Power 100 list but six months earlier he had been arrested by the Chinese government and held for over two months without any official charges being filed.

Photographs by Konsthopp

As you can imagine the preparation of the exhibition hasn’t been easy as only few months into working together with the artist, Tessa Praun, curator of the exhibition was told that Ai Wei Wei had suddenly been arrested and kept detained — and as she did not know what was going to happen, she had to decide how to move on. In a Konsthopp interview with the curator, this is what she had to say about the continue:

” Together with Ai Weiwei’s assistants we came to the conclusion that the best thing that we could do in that situation was to continue the preparations of the exhibition, it felt even more so important to show his work and make his voice heard. Despite my deep concerns for Ai Weiwei’s situation I had to focus as much as I could on completing the exhibition and do so in the most respectful way”.

-Tessa Praun

One of the way was to create a reading room, which is one of my favorite parts of the exhibition at Magasin 3. The reading room (which is both digital and physical) also includes documentary films, and really gives the visitors a chance to learn more about the artist and his multifaceted efforts to foster social change in China — an activism that has already put him on a collision course with the Chinese regime.

If you haven’t been at Magasin 3 yet — go this weekend! Tomorrow we’ll be publishing our monthly curator interview with Tessa Praun — who shares an informative view of Ai Wei Wei’s work with an inspiring insight of a young, successful curator.

Stay tuned, and happy weekend!

Date: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012

Artist: Ai Wei Wei

Curator: Tessa Praun

Place: Magasin 3, Frihamnen (Stockholm)

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Ceramic Art, Fine Art, Installation, Konsthopp, Political Art, Stockholm, Textile Art, Video Art

APRIL ACTIVISM

Flavor of the month: Sociopolitical art

“Liberty is about our right to question everthing” (Ai Wei Wei)

Over almost a year of blogging, we have visited numerous of exhibition touching on sociopolitical issues and interviewed artists who convey political messages through their work — our latest artist talk being a direct example. Other exmaples include interview with Páll Haukur Björnsson and Erla Silfá Þorgrímsdóttir, as well as exhibitions such as; The good, the bad & the anti, The world won’t listen, Memories / In between and Social Cleanup.

Still we wonder — what is sociopolitical art? Isn’t all conceptual art sociopolitical? Is it really possible to define?

This month we are hoping to explore and get some answers!

Below you can see an example of what might be concidered a sociopolitic art. Tips, suggestions and possible answers are of course appreciated. Stay tuned …

“From series of drawings by Nina Hemmingsson (photo taken from google images

Get Rich by Diann Bauer (photograph taken from Paradise Row)

Pharmacy herbs by luzinterruptus (photograph from the artists blog)

Work by Barbara Kruger (photo taken from google images)

Sunflower seeds by Ai Wei Wei (photograph by Konsthopp)

Political street art – Artist unknown (photo by Joshua Rappeneker)


Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Political Art, Sociopolitical art