Contemporary Art: Artist vs. Craftsman

Contemporary Art: Artist vs. Craftsman

Template-1, 001, by Ai Weiwei  2007, Ming and Qing dynasty wooden window frames and doors

The first impression of this installation may be disorderliness. But in fact, the large structure which was the Project 3 of Fairytale Art Event produced in 2007, was conducted by Ai Weiwei.

The work built out of Ming and Qing dynasty wooden doors and window frames. Those used objects were actually belonged to destroyed houses from destroyed ancient townships in China. Ai explains, ‘the materials I use comes from objects destroyed in the name of development, or would be used by antique dealers to make copies of antique future’. The doors and window frames are no longer used in themselves but become an artwork taking by artist. Surprisingly, Template was finally collapsed under heavy weather condition. Ai claimed that Template was more beautiful than before.

Ai always creates artwork combine innovative idea with political thinking to reveal inner struggle of current China. The material used in this installation had been considered as a symbol as recycled elements of the past and an irony to Cultural Revolution.

Ai makes a satire to Cultural Revolution in early China. On that time, Mao Zedong, the leader of China, encouraged people to destroy the old civilization in order to create a new culture. The revolution was undeniable a killer of Chinese tradition. Ai described it as one of ‘disasters and contradictions.’ To make an irony, he took this concept into his artwork. He often works deal with deconstruction and construction. Like other Ming and Qing Dynasty works, Ai destructed the old form of the object then reorganizes it to a new form.

On the other hand, Template is also a performance art. Without the sudden wind, it cannot be like that and much more beautiful. Without the harsh climate, it just an ordinary installation. The natural factor in its exhibited period also adds a huge dramatic effect to Template. Not only the result of this work had been changed, but also interpreted Ai’s art attitude. Template was destroyed by the weather but developed a new form. Everything to be created should be undermined first. At last, it seems that process, as a happening should also be a part of art in the work.

In above practice, materials and timing strongly influence a work and add meaning to it. In Ai’s art-world, there is totally free. He can use anything to come up with idea, direct the production and make judgment. Ai Weiwei’s work raises my awareness of the meaning of Art.

Art would be considered as a thought, philosophy rather than aesthetics. Not means that aesthetics is hard to define and judge. It means that artist is not a craftsman or machine which produce things in order and Art can also be expanded in timing. The process can also be a part of artwork. As industry and technology becomes more and more mature, artists has more way to represent their idea. Traditional painter used different skills and technique to convey their concept but contemporary artist uses different methods and technology to express their idea. The possibility of making art has been magnified. And all the material, form and media even the timing only serves artist’s thinking.

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