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Ai Weiwei Fragments Fragments, 2005. Ironwood (tieli). Tables, chairs, parts of beams, and pillars from dismantled temples of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Sigg Collection

Perspectives: Ai Weiwei

May 12, 2012–April 14, 2013
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

This exhibition features prolific Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s monumental installation Fragments (2005). Noting the abundance of antique wood on the market, Ai had a number of pieces transported from Guangdong to his studio in Beijing to create a series of objects and installations. Fragments is a culmination of that body of work. Working with a team of skilled carpenters, Ai turned pillars and beams of ironwood (tieli) salvaged from several dismantled Qing dynasty temples into a large-scale, seemingly chaotic work, which he calls an “irrational structure.” Yet examined more closely, one discovers that the installation is an elaborate system of masterful joinery and delicate balance relations. Seen from above, the entire complex is anchored by poles marking out the borders of a map of China. Through his simultaneously destructive and creative process, Ai highlights the bewildering reality that we live in the midst of a world undergoing rapid spatial and social transformations. Perspectives: Ai Weiwei is presented concurrently with a retrospective of Ai Weiwei’s works at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.