Andy and Ai Weiwei; NGV
Ai Weiwei loves pussies. He has a snatch of pussies living with him at his studio complex, inspiring his creative impulses. It’s important to stand out from your peers when there are plenty of other pussies ‘round. One of Ai Weiwei’s pussies is so talented; its even learned to open a door. Competing for the attention of the master can bring out the best in ambitious young pussies. Andy Warhol loved pussies too, and I didn’t know that. But everyday you commit to art, you learn something new. I thought Andy was more of a watch and document kind of guy. If you post footage on the internet of your pussy doing tricks, folks will browse. Everyone is united in their love of pussy.
I lost a friend fighting over Andy Warhol. Pete said Andy was the beginning of the end of art. That he used people up and was responsible for the deaths of a bunch of his collaborators. I said you can’t blame Andy for what happened to some of his friends and that he’s as close to a genius as an artist can get. High praise from someone who doesn’t believe in genius. If you don’t believe in god, you can’t believe in genius. The argument continued; everyone has an opinion about Warhol. The fight we were having was really about gender equality. Poor Pete had been indoctrinated at Scotch College, one of the posh, elitist private schools that churn out leaders and instill an unwavering belief in the eternity of patriarchal construct. Born to rule those Scotch College Boys. And be in the army and kick and catch a footy good, and be Premier of Victoria. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Old_Scotch_Collegians
I wanted to be heard as an equal by Pete, and he wasn’t hearing me equally. He was hearing a woman who wouldn’t back down, and he wasn’t used to that. Anyway, we didn’t even get to the let’s agree to disagree bit, and I haven’t seen Pete since. I’m glad he was lost to such a noble cause as the defense of Andy Warhol. The show at the NGV confirms Andy as a master; the darker he gets, the better, conceptual art masquerading as Pop. His Death and Disaster series is supreme: the Electric chairs, the Gun, the Tuna fish disaster works remind us, that accidents can’t be edited entirely out of life. If you eat the wrong thing, your number can be up and all the insurance in the world won’t change that. The only constant is the presence of a media hungry to cash in on memento mori moments.
The way an audience member reads the work of Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol, says as much about our personal philosophies as it does about those of the artist. You can mount a good case that Andy Warhol used the cult appeal of his Superstars, to bolster his own public image. Equally, you can argue that Andy used his commercial/financial art success to host an extravagant party for a whole lot of his crazy friends. Andy Warhol and The Factory gave a platform to people on the margins of society and this gesture was so avant-garde, that it continues to resonate today. Transgender identity was either championed by Andy, or cynically used to garner attention from a conservative media pack.
Similarly, you could think that the state sanctioned success of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (as represented by the plethora of extravagant museum exhibitions currently showing throughout the world) is a signal of the commodification of the dissident. That there’s a whole lot of countries very nervous about the new world order and what China is capable of and they’re using the voice of Ai Weiwei to have a crack, because they can’t. Ai Weiwei is the go-to-guy for our curiosity about China; he has that corner of the market well and truly stitched up. He is an established art brand as surely as Warhol is.
Where Warhol is constant, Ai Weiwei is patchy. With the presentation of so much art by two artists, side by side, in room after room, its hard not to read this as a battle along the lines of the recent Ultimate Fighting Championship fight between Rowdy Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm.
Forever, Ai Weiwei’s monumental foyer installation, is his key work, and we seldom get to see a work of this scale and power here in Australia. It’s the cost of freight that usually does the big works in. Forever is the best use of this space within the NGV, ever. His Chandelier, a riff on Tatlin’s Tower, looks like a Christmas tree in a high-end corporate foyer. Vladimir Tatlins notions of modernity within the shadow of the Bolshevik revolution, seduced and overcome by the consumerism of the Shopping Mall. That’s what’s really going on, so maybe it’s a fair cop. When Ai Weiwei descends into blingy materiality, his works suffer, and the Circle of Animals (in Gold), we’ll just skip straight past, because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about them. It looks like the art dissident might have accidently become commodified, another casualty seduced by the outrageous excesses of an art market on steroids. Steroids and growth hormones.
Sometimes in the show you get the feeling Ai Weiwei is trying to insight a riot, and that feels good, but then the feeling is lost through some shiny, shiny surface treatment of an art product with an exorbitant price tag. When Ai Weiwei flashes the bird round, or poses for selfies, like Santa, he’s at his best. He should give up Lego, as a medium, immediately. It’s too flat, and you can’t enjoy walking over the head of Archie Roach, whose likeness is under foot, within the Lego echo chamber construction, of Australian advocates for Human Rights and freedom of speech.
For the world’s most famous dissident artist, you’d think Ai Weiwei would know better than engaging in Lego Gate. One rich artist’s struggle to get his Lego order filled…… um….. what a crock of shit to bother speaking about, can you please spare us from your brain farts. Unless Lego is using toxic substances within its products that harm its little kiddy customers; is underpaying workers; or isn’t paying their corporate tax because they can hide it in some exotic island tax shelter, no wait, everyone does that (even Malcolm Turnbull, our own rich PM) then I don’t want to hear about it. The Australian Government thinks rich companies have a right not to publically disclose their earnings, that’s where we’re at here.
Should Ai Weiwei have known that the Chinese Government would use the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a smokescreen to cover up its human rights abuses before he began collaborating (with Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron) to design the Bird’s Nest Stadium? Yeah. It was a fair bet. So Ai Weiwei used the media’s interest in the Olympics to develop his own platform as a dissident. Ai Weiwei likes to have his cake and eat it too, god bless ‘im.
Apart from eating cake, Ai Weiwei likes smashing urns. Don’t have him over to dinner at your house, your Grandma’s dinner service could end up smashed on the floor like the crockery at a Greek Taverna. Ai likes Han era urns. That period in China was contemporary with the Roman Empire in the west. Debauchery was in the air everywhere. A short while back, an as yet undiscovered artist smashed an Ai Weiwei urn and accidently uncovered some conceptual cracks in the Master’s armour.
An attack on the Chinese artist’s installation in Miami has been condemned as an act of vandalism. Why is smashing art only acceptable if an acclaimed global artist does it?
Smashing art is interesting if an acclaimed global artist does it, and even if an art collector does it. But the guy who walks into a museum and smashes it is a vandal. Could it be that smashing masterpieces is never interesting? That this illegal attack on art exposes the shallowness of the high end of contemporary art, where it’s cool to smash Han antiquities or doodle on Goya prints? Ai Weiwei is courageous and eloquent but this incident and his response – for he has condemned the vandal – make me wonder about the rules of art right now. The reasons for condemning one destructive act and celebrating another don’t seem clear. Suddenly, the world’s most respected artist looks a bit conceptually fragile.
I loved this show. It’s given me an entire summers worth of art thinking to get through. Already, there’s a nattysolo tribute work in my brain. It riffs off Warhol’s Tuna Fish Disaster work, but layers in Chinese and Australian contemporary issues surrounding food security, lack of access to maternity leave and other highly emotional issues surrounding motherhood. White Gold Baby Formula, is a screen-print, and a sculpture. For the sculpture I will add in Piero Manzoni, and pay respects there too. Instead of canning the artists shit, my cans of baby formula will be filled with baby shit, our friends Andrew and Olivia have an ample supply via their robust twins Patrick and James. The tins will read: Baby’s Shit
Contents 30 gr net
Produced and tinned
In January 2016
Andy and William Burroughs love the Chelsea Hotel 3.17 secs, funny fuckers, William makes a chicken fried steak sound literary, such is the resonance of his voice. Andy encourages William to do his drawing, bigger. Later Nico arrives and steals the show. If you like this clip, watch the whole documentary, there’s Quentin Crisp too.
8.13 mins (great clip)
From good art comes more good art.
11 December – 24 April