The lead up to He Xie (Crabs) – 河蟹
Artist Ai Weiwei, it seems, is always surrounded by controversy whether it is in relation to his visual masterpieces or his activism. Mr. Ai’s run-ins with the Chinese government have continued to border on dangerous but the revered artist is always willing to include these elements in his performance art. In 2010, Ai ran into the Chinese police in an unfortunate encounter whereby the local government tore down a large new studio that Ai had built in Shanghai as a result of ‘code violations’.
Before the studio was demolished, Ai hosted a dinner at the Shanghai studio, which he was barred by the government from attending, as a satirical nod to the studio’s planned destruction by the administration. The dinner was characterized by one of Ai’s most talked about installations- He Xie (crabs).
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=193061, 1993, stones
Jaehyo Lee (b. 1965, Hapchen, South Korea) graduated in 1992 with a BFA from the Hong-Ik University in Seoul. Combining distinct traces of Land Art, Arte Povera and Minimalism Lee´s works cast a questioning eye over the roots of form, its function and its role within the natural world.
Lee´s works willfully play with the oft-contested boundaries between modern art and design, referencing the idealist´s cubes, cylinders and cones as perversions of the chaise longue, the coffee table, the lampshade, and even the humble doughnut. Revealing a subtly humorous and unsentimental attitude to nature, what unites these works is a belief that the beauty of art is a product of the labor from whence it comes, whether this be the meticulous carving of larch trunks into the form of a perfect sphere or, equally, the precise bending and sanding of thousands of nails hammered one after another into a hunk of cut lumber.
“Until recently, my work has been about combining wood with nails or steel bars and integrating them into geometrical shapes such as spheres, hemispheres, or cylinders. Whenever I did this, one of my problems was to keep the nails and bolts out of sight. Now, on the contrary, I put an emphasis on the nails themselves. I drive countless nails into wood, bend them, grind them, and make them protrude. I then burn the wood, blackening its growth ring records and its natural color. The glittering metallic nails on the black charcoal become ever more conspicuous, and through this process, I draw a picture on wood using nails. Those who make a hard living may be the ones who make this world a beautiful place. I certainly do not have the power to make it beautiful. I just hope to reveal the beauty in what is usually seen but not noticed. It may be a rusty bent nail. If you take a close look at it, however, you’ll find out how beautiful it can be.”
Jaehyo Lee – Lotus, 2013, Wood (Korean Big Cone Pine), 216 in; 548.6 cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=102101, 2002, Wood, 350x350x350cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=114047, 2014, Wood, 700x700x700cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=191111, 1991, Stone, 300x300x350cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=197073, 1997, Stone, 220x220x350cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=194051, 1994, Grass, 150x150x150cm
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=115075, 2015, Wood, 560x130x360cm
David Best’s London 1666
London is on fire! This is the scene that artist David Best desired to create when he came up with the idea dubbed ‘London 1666’. This is not the first time that David has created something that he would later burn but it is definitely the first in making a creation of such huge proportion. To bring to life the London 1666 project, and having enlisted the help of volunteers, David oversaw the construction of wooden structures that represent various buildings in London in the 17th century. The huge sculpture was not supposed to give a visual of how London looked like at the time, but to provide an image of the skyline. 2017 marked the 350th anniversary since the Great Fire of London and David Best has done his part in remembering the tragedy.
This expression, although not in words, told the story of the historic event. When you imagine the loss that was incurred by thousands of people then, what David is burning does not even come close to comparison. According to historical records, the fire consumed 13,200 houses, 44 livery halls, 87 churches and 400 streets. The wooden recreation was 120-metre long and comprised of 190 miniature buildings. Observers could see structures of churches, factories, homes and schools that were mounted on barges before being set ablaze to burn away as drifted the course of the Thames river.
Carsten Höller – Test Site, 2007, New Museum, New York – Exhibition: Experience, 2011
Carsten Höller is well known for playfully including his slide installations in major museums across the world. Höller, who is formerly a scientist with a degree in agronomy, is famous for repurposing components of the real world, such as slides, for art spaces. The majority of his works feature aesthetics that are relational, meaning that the projects created are inspired by the relationship that people have with their social contexts. The end result of Höller’s incredible work is an experience that resembles part playground and part lab, which is a crowd pleaser.
Alfredo Jaar – A Logo for America, 1987/2014, Times Square, New York, 1987
About Times Square, New York
The Times Square in New York is characterized by an epic display of contemporary consumerism; it is flooded with tourists from all regions of the world and filled with numerous electric billboards displaying services and a range of products for sale. If you are going to install an art exhibition, and a successful one at that, there is no better location that offers as much visibility as Times Square.
Thomas Struth – Pantheon, Rome, 1990
Thomas Struth is one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary photographers of our time. He is renowned for his black and white photographs of cities such as Düsseldorf and New York, as well as his family portraits. The artist who lives in Dusseldorf acquired his inspiration for his series of Museum Photographs while he was residing in Naples and Rome, where he discovered that there was a connection between paintings of art and religion and how these paintings connect audiences to their spirituality. The Museum Photographs, which was showcased at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, marshaled in a new visual language in the field of photography.
Olafur Eliasson – The Weather Project, 2003, Monofrequency lights, projection foil, haze machines, mirror foil, aluminium, and scaffolding, 26.7×22.3×155.4m, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London
Photo: Olafur Eliasson / Tate, London
About the Weather Project
Olafur Eliasson has created a gigantic installation which in 2003 took over all space in Tate Modern, London. The artwork, a sun rising out of a mist was bound to keep any visitor in awe. In this project named The Weather Project, the Scandinavian artist recreated the sun and the sky to occupy the Turbine Hall. The whole space was covered with a fine mist that seeps into the whole space like it was coming from the outside space. Looking ahead to see if the mist escapes into the outer space, visitors saw in place of the ceiling, a replica of the space below – like a mirror. There were 200 low-sodium mono-frequency lamps at the extreme end of the hall as well. Mono-frequency lamps are mostly used in street lights and the frequency at which they emit light is so low that any other color besides black and yellow are invisible. These lamps, therefore, change the view and landscape of the environment into one with two tones.