Ai Weiwei's first design exhibition celebrates "how life goes on" after the pandemic

Lots of of 1000’s of cannonballs, donated Lego bricks and a marble rest room roll characteristic in Making Sense, the primary design-focussed exhibition by Chinese language artist Ai Weiwei at London’s Design Museum.

Exhibiting a spread of recent and historic works unfold throughout a single gallery, Ai Weiwei: Making Sense opens on the Design Museum this Friday and marks the artist’s first design-focussed exhibition to this point.

Nonetheless Life is an set up of 1000’s of discovered objects from the Stone Age

“I needed to do one thing after the pandemic to rejoice how life goes on,” defined Ai, who’s globally recognised for utilizing artwork as a device for activism.

Central to the house is 5 “area works” made out of rectilinear preparations of discovered objects that the artist has been accumulating for the reason that Nineties.

Installation of porcelain cannonballs by Ai Weiwei in the Design Museum in London
Ai Weiwei additionally created a “area work” from porcelain cannonballs

Nonetheless Life is a bunch of a number of thousand Stone Age axe heads, knives, spinning wheels and chisels sourced from flea markets and laid side-by-side. The set up intends to humble guests and function a reminder that design was initially primarily based on survival.

One other untitled work created final 12 months brings collectively over 200,000 Xing ware porcelain cannonballs made throughout China’s Tune dynasty – seemingly delicate objects that had been as soon as warfare weapons.

Cluster of sculptures destroyed by the Chinese government by Ai Weiwei
Left Proper Studio Materials collects Ai’s sculptures that had been destroyed by the Chinese language authorities

“It is a matter of intelligence,” Ai advised Dezeen, discussing his lengthy historical past of accumulating artefacts.

“It’s to maintain the reminiscence and to attempt to construct your self with what has occurred to different human beings in very dramatically completely different instances by means of historical past.”

Wooden sculpture positioned alongside Lego installations
Different items characteristic 1000’s of Lego bricks

Spouts is an set up of 1000’s of historical porcelain teapot spouts, whereas Left Proper Studio Materials collects fragments of Ai’s sculptures that had been destroyed by the Chinese language state when it demolished the artist’s Beijing studio with out warning in 2018.

“The stays are a type of proof of the repression that Ai has suffered by the hands of the Chinese language authorities, in addition to a testomony to his capacity to show destruction into artwork,” stated the Design Museum.

Urn painted with a Coca Cola logo by Ai Weiwei
Among the many discovered objects is a Han dynasty urn painted with a Coca Cola brand

The fifth “area work” options piles of Lego bricks that had been donated by members of the general public after the toy producer stopped supplying bricks to Ai as a result of he used the toys to create portraits of political prisoners.

Known as Lego Incident, the work is offered alongside an unlimited recreation of French impressionist Claude Monet’s famed Water Lillies collection that can also be made fully out of Lego, in addition to a dramatic wood sculpture fabricated from columns sourced from a Qing dynasty temple and tables from the identical interval.

Marble toilet roll
In 2020, the artist created a rest room roll from marble in response to the pandemic

Among the many different items within the exhibition, the artist offered a pair of enormous sculptures made out of life jackets and youngsters’s faculty luggage respectively.

The objects had been organized in two snake-shaped formations devoted to the victims of China’s 2009 Sichuan earthquake and the continuing refugee disaster in Europe.

Additionally on show are two life-size rest room rolls made out of marble and glass, which had been designed in 2020 in response to our dependency on on a regular basis objects in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Study of Perspective photogrpahy series by Ai Weiwei
Images additionally options within the exhibition, together with the artist’s Research of Perspective collection

“They work as one,” stated Ai, who stated he doesn’t have a favorite piece within the exhibition – quite, he feels the tasks complement one another.

“All my works work as one – the unhealthy ones, the so-called ‘good’ ones, the random ones or those being uncared for.”

“It is similar to, are you able to select one a part of your physique as a very powerful one?”

Varied pictures was additionally proven, together with vibrant new editions of the artist’s Research of Perspective collection – photographs of the artist pointing his center finger at recognisable landmarks together with Berlin’s Reichstag constructing and New York’s Trump Tower.

Prints displaying the Nationwide Stadium, broadly often called the Chook’s Nest, being constructed previous to the 2008 Beijing Olympics had been additionally mounted to the wall.

Whereas the artist helped to conceive the stadium in collaboration with structure studio Herzog & de Meuron, he later distanced himself from the mission in protest towards the Chinese language authorities.

Bird's Nest stadium in construction
One picture exhibits Beijing’s Chook’s Nest stadium in building

“I by no means actually have a selected hope,” stated Ai. “I simply focus alone observe,” he stated discussing how he would really like audiences to have interaction with the exhibition.

“I believe it is a good suggestion to current to others as folks could share the identical sort of feelings or ideas [to you]. However I do not know – I simply do not know.”

Different latest tasks contained in Ai’s intensive portfolio of political work embrace a cage-like construction in Stockholm and a Quebec Metropolis set up fabricated from a wall of life jackets that had been utilized by Syrian refugees whereas making an attempt to cross the Mediterranean sea.

The photographs are courtesy of the Design Museum.

Ai Weiwei: Making Sense is on show at London’s Design Museum from 7 April to 30 July 2023. See Dezeen Occasions Information for an up-to-date listing of structure and design occasions happening all over the world.