Inquirer Review: ‘Ai Seems to Decry Corruption of Chinese Cultural Values’

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 30, 2010

Arcadia University welcomes the 44th annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) to Philadelphia with Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE – 2010 CE), a solo exhibition of works by the Beijing-based artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957). Read more about the exhibition.

Philadelphia Inquirer Contributing Art Critic Edward Sozanski writes about the exhibition, “Ai seems to decry the corruption of Chinese cultural values, so eloquently expressed in its ceramics for centuries, by Western commercialism…. In one notorious case, he did destroy a valuable original, a Han Dynasty stoneware vase that shattered when he dropped it onto a stone floor. The iconoclastic gesture is dramatically documented in a sequence of three large photographs that give his exhibition its title.”

Sozanski explains, “Arcadia has organized a piquant and provocative show for a Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, who exhibits ceramics but doesn’t make them. Rather, he breaks and desecrates them to challenge the shibboleths of authenticity, originality, and rarity on which Western connoisseurial and market values are based.

“Through his art, Ai questions the subversion of traditional Chinese cultural values by Western ones. This is why, for example, he created his Coca-Cola series–‘Neolithic’ earthenware pots emblazoned with the cherry-red Coca-Cola logo,” adds Sozanski. Read his review of the exhibition.

Co-curated by Arcadia University Gallery Director Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore, artist and Associate Professor of Art and Design at Arcadia University, the exhibition is the first solo show by the Chinese artist to be presented outside of New York City in the United States. Read more about the exhibition.