Sunday, January 6, 2013

Perspectives: Ai Weiwei

Where: Sackler Gallery

When: through April 7, 2013

If the Hirshhorn show has left you wanting more of Ai Weiwei, you're in luck: the Sackler Gallery, only a few steps away, is featuring one of his installations as part of their "Perspectives" series of contemporary Asian art.  Located in the Gallery's main entryway, "Fragments" is one of his large pieces that, viewed from above, is in the shape of China.  My issue with this is the same one I had at the Hirshhorn.  It's all very well to make things in the shape of China, but if I can't look down on the piece to see that, the point is lost.

Setting that objection aside, the piece uses the same reclaimed wood from Chinese temples that I saw at the Hirshhorn, so there's a quality of timelessness to this, as well as a sense of time moving on.  Everything old is new again, perhaps expresses it best.  I would have liked to walk in the sculpture, but I'm pretty sure I would have been taken to task for that, so didn't attempt it.  A chair, a stool and a table make up part of this piece, and I wondered what it meant that those items couldn't be used - you can't just walk in and sit down on the chair, or set your bags down on the table; their usefulness has been removed.  I'm sure this is terribly important, but I can't quite figure it out.

There's a quote from Ai on the wall that I liked very much, "The more quickly one is moving, the more frequently one grabs hold of memories."  I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with the installation, but I think it's a great comment on our fast-moving, yet nostalgia-obsessed culture.

Verdict: You could easily top off your trip to the Hirshhorn by looking into the Sackler to see this, or you can have a look while you're in the Sackler to see another exhibit.

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