Ai Wei Wei With Milk

On our trip to Portland we stopped in a couple book stores and I picked up the book Ai Wei Wei With Milk in one of them. Ai Wei Wei has recently been disappeared in China and there have been demonstrations around the world to find out where he is. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Ai Weiwei decided to investigate on his own account, given the silence on the part of his country’s authorities as regards the number of victims, and opened a blog to recall the dead. He also worked with the Swiss partnership of Herzog & De Meuron in the design of the Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics.

His art in this book is very special given that it is done with milk. The book shows the various stages of the progression of mold growing on huge pools of milk and coffee in the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona. From an article in 2009 announcing the art installation:

BARCELONA.- As of December 10 the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion will be the object of an intervention that reflects on the use of buildings and our concept of them as unique, unalterable spaces. The artist Ai Weiwei, one of the leading – and most controversial – figures of Chinese contemporary art, will fill the Pavilion pools with two elements that, though very common in our everyday lives, are totally foreign to architectural construction. He will replace the water of the two pools, one exterior and the other interior, with milk and coffee, respectively.

In the words of the artist himself, ‘my intervention explores the metabolism of a living machine (…). In fact, the building is not static: the content of the two pools is replaced all the time, unnoticed to visitors’. Indeed, it seems that the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion is permanently still, but this is not the case, and Ai Weiwei proffers a reflection on this apparent stillness: ‘Upkeeping the condition of milk and coffee is the same as preserving a body, a demanding effort against light, air, warmth…’. In total, the two pools will be filled with 65 tons of milk and 15 tons of coffee, which will be kept in the open air.

More information about Ai Wei Wei here.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Russ

    I’m keen to hunt that book down now, thanks!

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