Ai Weiwei (born Beijing, China, 1957; lives and works in Beijing).
Steel and glass crystals on a wooden base; 700 x 529 x 400 cm.
A remake of Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International (1919-20). In 1919, Tatlin’s work was a commentary upon the new industrial age and the harnessing of new technology; Ai Weiwei pays tribute to this in 2007, but remakes it in made in stainless steel and glass, playing on the fragility of the old monument and ironically transforming it into an opulent chandelier. The work was made for Tate Liverpool.
“Fountain of Light is part of a series of crystal lamps and chandeliers that Ai Weiwei has made in recent years including Chandelier (2002), Boomerang (2006), and Descending Lights (2007). As with his large World Map (2006), made of hundreds of thin layers of cotton, Ai Weiwei alludes in these works to some of China’s famous exports (China has a large production and export of cotton, crystal prisms, and crystal chandeliers) and thus also points to China’s huge influence in world trade and the global economy. His works made out of crystal prisms are both beautiful and ‘kitschy’ at the same time, and give connotations [of] the opulent style of decoration one often finds in official buildings in communist countries. They are decadent in both a literal and an etymological sense: Descending Lights has really fallen down on the floor—the party is over, and we are left with a Heideggerian [Scheinen], the surface of something that is not tied to any reality—an illusion of something.”
—Farschou Foundation, link no longer accessible.