Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei repurposed 886 wooden stools to create a staggering stacked installation for the 2013 Venice Art Biennale. Featured at the German Pavilion, Weiwei’s “Bang” installation investigates traditional Chinese craftsmanship through toppling towers of stools that stretch from the floor to the rafters. The installation touches upon Chinese tradition and cultural values through the use of the stools, which are often passed down from generation to generation.
The three-legged stools hanging every which way in Weiwei’s “Bang” are from an era of craftsmanship that has since been eclipsed by the modern industrial age. Once made by hand from wood, the stools have stood the test of time and were handed down from one generation to the next. These stools were used by countless family members in domestic situations; they lasted for centuries and were not simply discarded due to shifts in fashion and cultural trends.
Weiwei’s “Bang” criticizes modern throw-away culture, which has replaced artisans and craftsman with industry and factories. Hand carved wood has been replaced by disposable plastic and aluminum. Weiwei arranged the handmade stools in chaotic bursts and arcs as a metaphor for the industrial world that has spiraled out of control as industry and technology develop at incredible rates.
The incredible installation will be on display in the German Pavilion throughout the Biennale.