On Sunday I went to see “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” at the Hirshhorn, which I think is officially one of my favorite museums in DC. It’s such a cool space, and it’s amazing how they’re able to transform it for each exhibit. “According to What?” has a lot of photographs, taken by him as well as of him throughout the years, and some sculptures and larger-scale installations that are a little like walking into someone’s dream world. A giant snake made from children’s backpacks zipped together snakes across the ceiling; in another room, a map of China is carved into a stubby column of wood, the countours extending all the way down the sides, but the top unviewable without the help of a stepladder. Another map of China is carved into a long log, the minute details stretching all the way throughout, so you can peek through and see light on the other side. This one was especially amusing because people were getting on their knees to look through it; as my friend said, “You know your art is good when you can get people to crawl on the floor to see it.”
Another piece I found especially interesting was an ancient vase, squat and terra cotta, on which Ai painted the Coca-Cola logo in silver. It’s that juxtaposition of high art and commercialism, ancient and thoroughly modern, that I find so interesting. That vase is art because it’s old; who’s to say in 200 years or so the Coke logo won’t be considered a masterpiece?
Check out a few of the photos I took below.