Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn
Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE – 2010 CE
Guest curators Philip Tinari and Richard Torchia introduce Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE – 2010 CE).
A Conversation with Wei Hsueh and Namita Gupta Wiggers
PNCA Faculty Wei Hsueh and MoCC Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers discuss historical and cultural contexts for Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn.
Craft Conversation: Dawn Odell
In "Culture Clash: Understanding Value in Chinese Antiquities Now," Lewis and Clark Professor Dawn Odell looks to the history of Chinese art to provide a framework for understanding the work of Ai Weiwei.
CraftPerspectives Lecture: Philip Tinari
Philip Tinari, founding editor of LEAP, a new bimonthly journal of contemporary Chinese art based in Beijing, lectures on the practices of Jingdezhen porcelain production in the context of Ai Weiwei’s approach.
July 15, 2010 – October 30, 2010
Curated by: Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore
Featuring a selection of ceramic works and photographs ranging from 1993 to the present, Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn offers viewers a focused look at Ai’s iconoclastic appropriations of historic clay pots and porcelain vases. The oldest works in the show utilize 7000-year-old Neolithic urns dating to 5000 BCE (‘Before Common Era,’ a non-religious alternative to the use of BC). This body of work is distinguished by its paradoxical investment in the Chinese ceramic vessel, a legacy whose values and significations it both questions and transcends. Ai’s focused exploration of earthenware and porcelain, begun just after the artist returned to Beijing in 1993 from a decade in New York City, is critical to understanding his radical practice that has evolved to incorporate sculpture, installation, photography, video, performance, and architecture as well as curating and activism.
Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn includes examples of a range of Ai’s practices, including his unprecedented use of Neolithic and Han dynasty vessels as historic “readymades,” replicas appropriating Qing dynasty (18th-century) porcelain commissioned by the artist from craftsmen in the town of Jingdezhen, where porcelain has been produced for the past 1700 years, and mimicry of the traditional trompe l’oeil strategy of producing glazed teapots and vases that replicate natural forms. As a group, the selected examples show Ai working through the dynastic progression of Chinese ceramics to reconcile the formal, material logic and historical, political commentary that give his work its unique mixture of gravity and wit.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalog featuring four essays commissioned for the exhibition and appearing in both English and Chinese translation. Essays include contributions by Philip Tinari, Dario Gamboni, Stacey Pierson, and Glenn Adamson, as well as the first English translation of an interview with Ai originally published in his White Cover Book (1995). The exhibition catalog is produced in collaboration with Office for Discourse Engineering, a Beijing-based editorial studio, distributed in the U.S. by RAM Publications and available for purchase in The Gallery at Museum of Contemporary Craft.
Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn has been organized by Arcadia University Art Gallery and supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Curated by Richard Torchia, Arcadia University Gallery Director, and Gregg Moore, Arcadia University Associate Professor of Art and Design.
EXHIBITIONS AND PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE SUPPORTED BY:
PNCA+FIVE Ford Institute for Visual Education
Paul G. Allen Family Foundation · The Collins Foundation · John Gray Charitable Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation · The Ford Family Foundation · MJ Murdock Charitable Trust · National Endowment for the Arts · Oregon Arts Commission · PGE Foundation · Regional Arts & Culture Council · Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation · The Standard · Mary Hoyt Stevenson Foundation · Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust · Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt · The Western States Art Federation · Whiteman Foundation · ziba · Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP
With special thanks to: Gerding Edlen Development and their support of the Cyan PDX Cultural Residency Program, The Heathman Hotel, The Nines Hotel, Twenty Four Seven, NWC Nick Weitzer Contracting and Willamette Week.