Text by Karen Smith, Sue-an van der Zijpp.
Born in 1957, Beijing-based Ai Weiwei is perhaps the most internationally visible contemporary Chinese artist. Philip Tinari has described his practice as a, "multitasking sprawl--encompassing artmaking, curating, publishing and architectural design--[that] threatens to answer the vaguely unsettling question, What would Andy Warhol's career have looked like if it had played out in turn-of-the-millennium China? (For one thing, architecture might have stood in for film; where Warhol created an alter-Hollywood, Ai is a self-invented starchitect)." After spending the early 1980s in New York, Ai moved back to Beijing in 1994. Already an important member of the Stars group, a socially critical movement that borrowed heavily from western art and culture, he established the famed China Art Archives and Warehouse in 1997. In 2000, on the occasion of the Shanghai Biennale, he organized the attention-grabbing group exhibition Fuck Off in collaboration with curator Feng Boyi. More recently, he was involved in the design of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing by Herzog & de Meuron. This publication takes an in-depth look at Ai's under-explored engagement with ceramics, and is published on the occasion of a solo exhibition of his recent ceramic work at Holland's Groningen Museum.