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Reflections from Curator Philip TinariAi Weiwei

March 5, 2014

Filmed for the occasion of Armory Focus: China at The Armory Show 2014 in New York City, curator Philip Tinari reflects on the work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Tinari, director of The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and curator of Armory Focus: China, notes Ai’s fascination with artists Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol and the resulting influence upon the artist’s work.

Philip Tinari began a partnership with Art21 in 2009, interviewing artist Cao Fei in Beijing for Season 5 (2009) of the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” series. Tinari would again partner with Art21 to interview artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing for Season 6 (2012).

Armory Focus is a specially curated section of The Armory Show that highlights the artistic landscape of a chosen geographic region. For The Armory Show 2014, Philip Tinari curated Armory Focus: China, shining new light on the country’s contemporary cultural practice.

More information and credits


Producer: Eve Moros Ortega. Interview: Eve Moros Ortega. Camera: Rafael Salazar. Sound: Ava Wiland. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Ai Weiwei. Archival Images Courtesy: Ai Weiwei and AW Asia. Thanks: Philip Tinari, The Armory Show, Christopher Mao, John Tancock, Chambers Fine Art, Taliesin Thomas, and Larry Warsh. Theme Music: Peter Foley.

Original Ai Weiwei segment excerpted from Season 6 (2012) of the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. Additional Ai Weiwei footage excerpted from the Artist to Artist series film, “Diana Al-Hadid at the 55th Venice Biennale.” © Art21, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Ai Weiwei

An outspoken human rights activist, Ai Weiwei infuses his sculptures, photographs, and public artworks with political conviction and personal poetry, often making use of recognizable and historic Chinese art forms in critical examinations of a host of contemporary Chinese political and social issues. In his sculptural works he often uses reclaimed materials—ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples—in a conceptual gesture that connects tradition with contemporary social concerns. He also employs sarcasm, juxtaposition, and repetition to reinvigorate the potency and symbolism of traditional images and to reframe the familiar with minimal means.

Fight the Power

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Alfredo Jaar

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Eleanor Antin

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Omer Fast

“Ai Weiwei is probably most fascinated with two Western artists: Duchamp and Warhol.

From Duchamp, he takes the this idea of the readymade; an object coming from Chinese tradition, or a technique that can be repurposed and refigured in new ways. From Warhol, I think he takes the idea that everything he does, at all times, is part of his artistic output.”

Philip Tinari

Ai Weiwei

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Ai Weiwei

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