Ai Weiwei talks about his concept: (“Ai Weiwei: Life is in danger everyday” by Louisiana Channel)
Ai Weiwei and Coke Cola Urns: The Democratizing or Commercializing of Art?
Ai Weiwei’s works often questions the exchange value of the cultural product in the global capitalistic system. One of the example is “Neolithic Culture Pot with Coca-Cola Logo.” Coca Cola as an art object easily brings us back to Andy Warhol’s concept: art belong to the pop. Warhol’s Pop art establishes the model that brought art to the public eye, not just for the elite. That pop culture can be art is not only revealing the commercial value but also to a certain degree, the democratic preference.
Parodying Warhol’s gesture, Ai applies the logo of Coke Cola and the commodity of mass production with a three dimensional work (antique) as a subject of the art. Ai sees it as an art that is democratic and non-discriminatory, bringing together both connoisseurs and untrained eyes. The antique is like Coke Cola that is not only for the privileged but expands for average people.
When asked about the possible desecration of antiques, Ai replied “Well, it’s worth more now,” (According to Marjorie Howard, “Branded by Art,” Tufts Journal, March 2008) This is not just a cynical or Warholian response, but maybe a truth. In 1992 when McDonald’s opened its China’s largest store which was located across from the Tiananmen gate of Beijing, international investors all hold this thought: “Now it’s worth more.” To make something “worth more” is a dream, and very possibly an illusion, of globalization.
By borrowing the elements of flatness and ironic attitude from Warhol, Ai Weiwei implies the notion that economic value might be a bubble. His “Neolithic Culture Pot with Coca-Cola Logo” serves as a mirror of this illusion. In Pot series, Ai’s devastating cultural symbols further infuriated some of the arts patronage from his own culture. And yet his deformed, whitewashed, colored and painted antiques, are popular in the international art world.Ai Weiwei internalizes his national identity in art practice while reflecting international critics and curators’ comments. Ambivalently, His position in international media is located inside and at the center of contemporary China.(Ai Wei Wei Paints Han Ceramics by jenniematic on Youtube)
[Back to front page]
The texts of gwenart by Gwen Kuo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gwenart.wordpress.com.