Ai Weiwei (born 1957 in Beijing, China; lives and works in Beijing, China).

Milk and coffee.

“I approach Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavillion as a ready-made, the activities it experienced and the way it’s been seen. The building is not static, in fact, my intervention explores the metabolism of a living machine. Liquid is replaced because it is part of the building that has always been replaced. In fact, the content of the two pools is replaced all the time, unnoticed to visitors. A pump re-circulates water in the large outdoor pool while the smaller pool is drained every two weeks, the dark glass at the bottom is cleaned and the pool refilled.

“Regular work is done to ensure that the monument appears unchanged, timeless; not forgetting that the entire buiding stands as a perfect reconstruction. In milk and coffee intervention, the under layer of this monument surfaces and persists in consciousness; it refuses to be flushed away. Upkeeping the condition of milk and coffee is the same as preserving a body, a demanding effort against light, air, warmth… anything encourages growth and change. What is vigour or geometry, clarity of assembly, and enlightened optimism, combined with ordinary everyday life? In its endeavour to correct mistakes of the past, Modernism might have made new mistakes. Today’s cultural attitude doesn’t mind mistakes; it sets out to move forward unafraid of making new ones.”
—Ai Weiwei, “With Milk __ find something everybody can use,” Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona website.

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