By Madison McLeod
The world in its current standing point is diverse and complex. Forces generate situations of new and interesting ambiguity that are sometimes near impossible to predict or comprehend. We label these circumstances of evolutionary moments, ‘change’. Change can often be beautiful and exciting, for example the change and evolution over time like children growing into adults, or the once simple village, forming into a capital city. Many artists have noticed the beauty found in convoluted change and have attempted to capture and interpret it in their own unique way by integrating traditional and cultural backgrounds. By doing so they have responded to their society by questioning the change and evolution of cultural history and identity.
Contemporary artists Ai Wei Wei and Jonathan Jones have both expressed their cultural diversity through their artwork. Although their backgrounds may be different, the application and execution of displaying the complex change of culture and identity is uniquely recorded and interpreted. The pair have strong reasoning’s for their investigation of their artistry. And the mediums in which these artists express their beliefs and ideas are both similar, for example the use of installations, sculpture work and filmmaking.
Born May 1975, Chinese contemporary artist Ai Wie Wie has spent his life investigating government corruption and cover-ups of his home country. This would most likely be due to the detainment of both his parents in Chinese labour camps after speaking out against the country during the 1958 anti-rightist movement. China, in history, has never accepted anything less than perfect order. Any person who was creative or seen as a threat to the nation that did not keep in line could easily be removed form society. Corruption in the Chinese government happened every day and there was nothing the people could do about it. In fact in recent times it has affected the people. In 2011 Ai Wei Wei was arrested at Beijing airport, and was held for over two months without official charges. The authorities later released allegations of ‘economic crimes’. Later that year Ai Wei Wie was named by the ArtReview magazine as number one of the annual Power 100 list . Chinese authorities criticised the decision stating, “ China has many artists who have sufficient ability. We feel that a selection that is based purely on a political bias and a perspective has violated the objectives of the magazine”. All this has allowed Ai Wei Wei compelling insight and awareness of political and ethical criticism.
His work, an ancient vase featured in his ceramic exhibition ‘Dropping the Urn’ (5000BC-2010), is a ready made that consists of a some what 5000 year old ceramic vase, with the iconic words ‘Coca-Cola’ painted in the symbolic red. He has featured a range of these similar works, many of his installations and shot films, which have been described by audiences as intriguing and deceptive. Through his works Ai has engaged viewers with issues important to modern china, his issue in this work the rapid modernisation, loss of natural history and the effects of global economy on traditions and modes of production. There is a sense of antiquity to his work where some would cringe at the idea of ‘defacing’ an ancient artefact, many have criticised the work due to these opinions but all in all the work offers a new and challenging perspective which, after all, is the desired out come to most artists works. On a personal note I also perceive the work as challenging and interesting to look at and research. The modes in which this work has been presented offers many different perspectives to viewers so the work can be interpreted in a different light by all. Through this and the meanings behind inspiration have all related back to a fundamental meaning of change and evolution. In this case Ai has shown the change and economical growth of his home country and the change of