Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

Politically vocal Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (previously) makes another obvious statement in this tripartite photograph “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” which depicts the artist dropping a 2,000 years old urn.

While the triptych gained notoriety as an iconoclastic gesture, it encapsulates several broader constants in Ai’s work: the socio-political commentary on the random nature of vectors of power; questions of authenticity and value (vis-à-vis the artist’s comment that the value of “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” has today exceeded that of the once-prized urn itself), and the cycle of creative destruction necessary for any culture’s survival and evolution.

This is what happens when you exile the dude’s famous poet father to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution. The sons gonna drop all your famous shit.


10 responses to “Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

  1. Ai Weiwei – love his work and Love your very apposite summary – “The sons gonna drop all your famous shit”
    Excellent … thank you

  2. Jens Böttiger

    Anyone who classifies the destruction of priceless artifact as art is a total psychopath. Nothing can justify this. Especially not an act of revenge. Especially not an act of revenge against a government that itself made war on history and destroyed millions of priceless artifacts in the 60s. This is an endorsement of totalitarian government more than anything. This is a crime against humanity.

  3. Dislike his art and what he did here but love your commentary on it. With so few relics left of the ancient ages he is spitting on communities that would kill for such art. Sometimes a political statement is just an overly dramatic way of saying ‘look at me! I have an opinion’!

  4. what i dont think people realise is that by destroying this vase, weiwei is treating the audience like idiots. Wether this is deserved or not is beside the point. The fact that to get his message across, he needs to destroy historically valuable artifacts, means that it is the only way that he is able to get across to people i.e. unless the message is being told dramatically people won’t notice/care. Therefore, people should be shocked and insulted by this piece if they have any understanding of it. I personally think its ridiculous, there really is no excuse to destroy priceless artifacts. If someone managed to graffitti on the mona lisa and by doing that be conveying a message, would people go ‘oh wow, thats deep, what a great artist’? MODERN ART IS STUPID

  5. He’s not destroying, he is recycling. He’s a sound bloke and he’s always done his homework. He’s probably hoping that he doesn’t need to destroy another historical artifact to get his ideas across. Good on him for putting a popular brand name into the mix.

  6. as kirsty said its to get his idea across and lets face it if it wasnt such a valuable artifact and caused so much contraversey would any of u actually know his art existed? his work is commentary on the globalisation of china and its affects on the people. a majority of his works actually help people through creating job opportunities for less fortunate and raising money for less fortunate so dont make stupid comments about how much of a dick you think he is unless u actually have a damn clue what his works are saying

  7. The irony is it was not a priceless artifact (it is not the Mona Lisa). It is of an era where there are thousands of these ‘priceless’ pieces left that the Chinese Communist party and the antiquities market have elevated beyond what they actually are. Specifically, Han Dynasty has been elevated as “the most Chinese” when in fact that era was a time where China was very much subject to outside influence. He anticipated a Western response to “senseless destruction”. It is simultaneously a critique of Western misunderstanding of valuation and of the current regime in China, and yes all their, and the previous regime’s senseless destruction of historical artifacts. His blog was published in print and explains some of this. Garth Clark wrote a lengthly article on his work in ceramics that includes commentary on this piece.

  8. @Jens … What sort of “humanity” is he living with in the PRC, Peoples Republic of China? Try reading about the cover up of the PRC of over 5,000 children dying in an earthquake because builders took shortcuts on the schools while the buildings around them all stood. Ai Weiwei was trying to expose that and his communist government silenced him. Is this how China protects its humanity? It is the people that need protected, not their artifacts.

  9. @fisin Someone has created a copy of the mona lisa and added a moustache and goatee to it, Marcel Duchamp in 1919. No it wasnt the exact replica but its not about the objects that modern artists reuse, its about the messages they are trying to convey through their artworks. I don’t think Modern art is stupid because they aren’t trying to shove what they think is right down out throats, but merely raise questions, explore new ideas, and express their opinions and its our job as the audience to be open minded and try to accept and understand them. btw im 15 so don’t judge if i sound ignorant or dumb.

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