Where did you find inspiration this week? Nette’ headed downtown to catch the tail end of Ai Wei Wei’s show at the Royal Academy of Arts for a little culture and a little inspiration. Though perhaps most widely known for his previous installation of sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern several years ago, Ai Wei Wei is a prolific contemporary artist whose art comes with a political bite. Ai Wei Wei’s work focuses on the inequalities and values of the Chinese Government. Through installation, videography, sculpture, and performance, Ai Wei Wei criticizes the Chinese Government’s position on human rights and democracy, challenging the viewer to do the same.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing installation pieces at the Royal Academy is Trees, a 2009 installation piece in the courtyard of the building featuring a forest of reconstructed trees and a single marble chair. The trees have been reconstructed of pieces of dead wood brought in from the mountains of Southern China. From afar, the trees appear natural, but closer inspection reveals the rusted bolts and brackets crudely holding the limbs together. Ai Wei Wei likens these patchwork trees to the diversity and culture of ‘One China.’ A neatly packaged phrase which refers to the rather complex political situation between two conflicting Chinese governments, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of China, both of which claim to be China’s chief governing power. The black marble couch that sits beneath the forest criticizes the hedonism and culture of excess popularized by China’s past Royal dynasties.
Interestingly, this installation was entirely funded by a Kickstarter campaign in tandem with the Royal Academy of Arts. Supporters were rewarded with limited edition prints, exclusive online content and private tours of Ai’s exhibitions. The campaign was successful in raising £100,000 to make the installation come to life. Want in on a secret? We at Nette’ are working on our very own Kickstarter campaign. Keep your eyes peeled! We’re almost ready to launch.