Essay on Ai Weiwei & Marcel Duchamp - Debate Within the Art World

Words: 2985
Pages: 12

Artists’ intentions are shaped by context, materials, ideas and audience.
Discuss this statement with consideration of how audience interpretations of artworks have caused debate in the art world.

An artwork is often an artist’s subjective expression of their context. The ideology of artists, their perceptions of their contexts and the materials available to them play a significant role in the creation of their artworks. However, an artist’s intentions can be misinterpreted or disregarded by their audience, often sparking fervent discussion within the art world. Through the artists Ai Weiwei and Marcel Duchamp, we can clearly see how personal reactions to an environment shape the intent of artworks. Additionally, from their audiences’
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The wide recognition of the product label ‘Made In China’ is representative of the culture’s ability to turn individuals into mass producers. This is alluded to in the production process of the work; the installation consists of a hundred million seeds, crafted in porcelain and hand-painted by 1,600 skilled workers, a process that took two and a half years to complete. It is the monumental scale of this work that has an undeniably strong impact upon its audience. It is tremendously overwhelming yet capable of alluring viewers into the compelling political references within the work to then communicating them to the wider world.
Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” marks the zenith of his artistic achievements in his career. Weiwei is resolutely concerned with bringing about a change in society’s way of thinking and behaving through artistic ideas and actions. However, ironically his installation “Sunflower Seeds” captivates its audience by its sheer beauty and poetry. The realistic approach Weiwei has taken in representing sunflower seeds in terms of colour, line, and the physical texture is appealing to the audience and also conveys Weiwei’s political views. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming response to the installation, foot traffic has caused a lot of ceramic dust which is concerning for public health and viewers can no longer interact with the work. Weiwei’s intention was for people to respond to it physically, and so while the work may lose that powerful