Ai Weiwei : art of irony

Pusch, Anette (2012) Ai Weiwei : art of irony. Masters thesis, LASALLE College of the Arts.

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Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Ai Weiwei : art of irony
Synopsis:

Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most controversial contemporary artists, architect, designer, and social commentator whose work invariably carries an ironic charge. His “performance” in effect, is his life. Nevertheless, Ai’s proclivity for concept over materiality, for performative gamesmanship over tangible artwork is clearly demonstrated in his works from 1993 onwards. Thereby, his manifold creative practice force to reconsider the modern analytic approach to art based on parsing differences and clear-cut distinctions: between modes of artistic expression, or differing political stances. Ai objects reflect the dynamics of a puzzling instant by critically reflect on what comprises China’s past tradition and its growing modernity. Indeed, Ai comes to art despising the political exigencies of a system that has sent his family into exile a year after he has been born. This system condemned its society to cultural paucity, that intractable experience would later inform Ai’s work. Still, finds initial expression in Ai’s discovery of Dada-inspired art when he left Beijing for New York in 1981. The shock-tactics of the Dadaists and challenge to the socio-political status quo become distinctive parts of Ai’s work. Through this exploration, Ai’s work demonstrates the capability of the objects, to be constantly re-signified, transforming its meaning and value in the contemporary condition. At once, it enables Ai to provoke unsettling questions about the role of art and culture, and his historical and ideological nature. Notably, Ai’s art uses irony as a relational strategy where his ironies ‘work’ the space between deconstruction and creation, but also between politics, art and artist, the past and the present. These contradictions are not seriously mean to be resolved, but rather are to be held in an ironic tension. Yet, this tensions goes to the heart of the culture problem; who decides what is precious, of enduring value to society, and for what reasons? In this contradiction one may find no answer, but the questions that will make any answering process even possible are at least starting to be asked. Nonetheless, a detailed consideration of Ai raises several queries about a framework of his artistic styles. What shapes his work? What are characteristics of his art? How is his art to be read? Certainly, there are conventions of art that cannot be ignored: the discourse of art, the troublesome Chinese social conditions and the governmental failings. More recently, with the aid of irony, Ai’s ultimate goal is not to contradict, but to argue that factuality is never more than the half story. Seen from this context, this thesis avoids making a solely assertion over the analysis of Ai’s work but opens up the feasibility for a different perspective. Rather, this analysis aspires to attest how irony inherit in Ai’s work affected the desire for arts meaning. By exploring Ai’s work through the writings of critical theories, in particular the writings of Theodor W. Adorno, and the notion of irony.

Subjects: Art History > Chinese Artist
Divisions: Faculty of Fine Arts > Master - Asian Art Histories
Depositing User: Ms Ashalatha Krishnan
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 06:48
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2013 06:48
URI: http://drlib.lasalle.edu.sg/id/eprint/69

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