First Look at the Installation: Ai Weiwei

German Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale
May 31, 2013 2:43PM

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries. Every family had at least one stool, which served all sorts of domestic purposes and was passed on from generation to generation. After the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966, and the subsequent modernization of the country, however, production of these stools plummeted. Aluminum and plastic have superseded wood as the standard material for furniture. Out of 886 of these stereotyped and yet highly individual objects, Ai Weiwei, recruiting traditional craftsmen who possess the necessary and now rare expertise, has created an expansive rhizomatic structure whose sprawling growth recalls the rampantly proliferating organisms of this world’s megacities. The single stool as part of an encompassing sculptural structure may be read as a metaphor for the individual and its relation to an overarching and excessive system in a postmodern world developing at lightning speed.”— Curator Susanne Gaensheime

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Photographs by Alex John Beck for Artsy

German Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale