Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dance of the Sun Flowers Seeds

Sunflower Seeds by Ai Wei Wei, commissioned by Tate Modern, 2010,
the largest commission work by Tate in history; photo by Loz Pycock/Wikimedia Commons

written by Wen Wen Lin, Feb. 14, 2012
Who's Afraid of Ai Wei Wei?
Ai Wei Wei -- 艾未未 (畏畏)-- Wei Wei, in Chinese, is homonym to "afraid, afraid", which is quite the opposite of what Ai stands for: as a political activist, spokesman for freedom of speech, the conscience of modern China, the artivist puts his art into action.  With his un-ignorable attitude, he is anything but afraid to "stick his middle finger up"  the Chinese Communist Party, as in one of his photography shows, or to shoot a bluntly open blasphemy, when he jumped in the air naked, holding a love pillow over his genital, "草泥马挡中央" (Fuck Your Mom, the Central Communist Committee)--  So who is afraid of Ai Wei Wei?  Definitely not himself.

After been released by Chinese Authority, a nearly 3 month's psychological torture back in June 2011, this is the first time Ai Wei Wei been openly interviewed on-line, which is still a violation of his restriction for his parole, and soon we learned, after this interview, his wife was summoned by the Communist Party for interrogation for an entire day. 

Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

In this video, with curator of his Stockholm exhibition, Tessa Praun, in Jan. 31, 2012, Ai talks about his work: Sun Flower Seeds-- a mess production that takes 1,600 faceless artisan workers for 2 yrs-- 6 tons of billions of hand-painted, fired porcelain sun flowers seeds: the concept of it moves the idealistic romantic side of me.  The symbolic statement of this piece is very subtle: from the maximalism to the minimalism--the elegance of its simplicity in form, anonymous like sand, out of everyday life, and yet with complex social symbolism and connotations.  It is his best, in my opinion-- it is art that matters-- every viewer can bring one seed back with them, and it brings interaction and social change.  Even after coming out of the museum, the process of searching for meaning of the pc still lingers with the viewer.  In its so exemplified the reduced minimal existence of the mess, exactly what i see in China from traveling extensively there every year for the past 15 yrs-- at the train stations, at the public square, and at the shopping malls, it is "People mountains, People seas", the mess existence-- I am both instantly drawn and aesthetically shocked by the grace of "Sun Flower Seeds"s simple form, but also for its magnitude and the multiplicity of maximalism, & symbolism.   Still faceless, reduced to minimal form, & powerless contributors are those who really represent china, from ancient history, to cultural revolution (文化大革命1966 through 1976), to Tiananmen Square Protest (1989), to even nowadays revolution of Capitalism without democracy--  the powerless mess are still the powerless mess in face of tank, army and totalitarian regime, which shows only superficial sign of moderation in brutality when dealing with its own armless people, via influence of modernization and capitalism.

at the Tiananmen Square, by Ai Wei Wei

The Modern China: Communist Capitalism, and The disparity between capitalistic speedy material gains and spiritual/ cultural under-nourishment:  
A startling example of a mid-size city transformation below would show how capitalism adds to enhance the Central Communist Party of its totalitarian power, and also show how in comparison, Western liberal democratic system is too "ideologically rigid", and costly with too many voices, too time consuming, and too dividing-- China is able to advanced in capitalism in such a speed, as seen from my own eyes, when traveling in the City of Quilin, and saw this mid-size city, completely torn down, and rebuild over mere 6 months period-- including relocation of all stores and the residents elsewhere, flatten the main streets-- the Broadway of the city, so to speak-- and the street was rebuild with modern neon, roads, and high rise in a few months period.  Such a tremendous, dramatic facelift and change for a city, after the mayor of the city was offended by Bill Clinton's remark in his 1998 visit: "Guilin is like a beautiful innocent little girl shrouded in rags"--  will take hundreds of yrs for a democratic society to achieve; but it took Quilin 6 months.  And this kind of transformation does not  just happened in one city, it happens everywhere else in China over the past 30 yrs.  The world's largest middle class is created, under communist capitalism.  Even when the west was stripped naked financially by the string of financial crisis in 2008, followed Lehman Brothers' downfall, as Fukuyama observed, China was able to navigate itself, and turned the crisis into a way to "provide an engine for long-term domestic consumer demand."  And all these was done based on the ability of its authoritarian political system to "make large, complex decisions quickly, and ... make them relatively well, at least in economic policy." (note 1)  But China, as Ai Wei Wei observed, has not changed.  If there is no freedom of speech, there is no growth in culture's spirit, and there is no change.  What is created is this huge disparity between capitalistic gain and spiritual under-nourishment:  "A painful truth of today is that even as we import technologies and lifestyles, there is no way to import spiritual awakening, justice or strength . There is no way to import the soul".....

草泥马挡中央; by Ai Wei Wei,
photo from Ai's blog(shut down at the moment by the government)

Ai Wei Wei's Role--The Future China and the Internet People's Revolution:
Capitalist Communism V.S. Communist Capitalism: U.S. has much less to teach China as a role model after the financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage banking industry collapse in 2008.  Every new born American golden baby now would have already inherent nearly $190,000 debts before breathing the first fresh air of the outside world.  With American government lack of plan to deal with long term financial crisis, Chinese are seriously examining  their role model of democratic capitalist counter force.  The West has favored Ai Wei Wei so far.  His art and his act represent the un-dominable attitude and resistance with his art prowess, as recently deceased poet, Adrienne Rich said when she refused her literary award by American Government:" Art, means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage."

Shockingly it may seem, on the contrary, the majority of the Chinese people think that China is heading in the right direction.  China is known to put itself through tremendous change in the shortest span of time in history.  And the change now is even more inevitable because of the prevalent internet communication among all different backgrounds Chinese.  The Arab Spring in the Muslim world created an unstoppable wave of fresh air and fresh blood, which intimidated the Communist party and subsequently propelled the crack down on the dissident artists and intellectuals in 2010 that lead to the arrested of Ai Wei Wei.  But the force of the change is unstoppable.  All it need is T.I.M.E. and patience.  Give it some more years, the Chinese could expect the older power communists all dying out along with their old idealism,  and the newer generation of internet babies born with the silver spoon of global vision in power-- thus start the dance of the sunflowers seeds.  With liberal and individualistic spirit imbused, once were the anonymous existence, through the soundless shifting sand of time, now have become sun-flower blossoms, and dance under the sun.  Who's afraid of Ai Wei Wei?  One can expect not China anymore in the long run-- the dance towards the birth of a society without domination.  But for now, Ai Wei Wei is still very much to be feared.

dance of the sunflower seeds, in Tate Modern,  Photo: REUTERS

(1) Fukuyama:,8599,2043235,00.html#ixzz1nLWps6HA)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Brave New World Premiere Exhibition, June 26, 2011

This is a continuing social interactive installation, design by wen wen lin, lady joker facilitators for this show are Beautiful Giovanna Sun,  striking Wen-chi Chen, & Wen Wen Lin TWANY artists (Taiwan Women Artist in New York),  Exhibition gallery at  Hell's kitchen area, 315 West 39 st, Gallery 505/506, New York

My Brave New World: An exercise of Dis-familiarization:
It is a viewer interactive, viewers immersive installation--  art in action.   It aims to engage the viewers into realm of dis-familiarity, (and maybe discomfort zone.)  And such an act challenges perception and could lead to breaking away from slavery of unwanted habits from our monkey mind.  Habit is our identity, and habits breaking opens the door to the brave new world of de-coding and recoding, de-learning and

re-learning, and seeing the world anew.  Deeply believe in art as a mean of social interaction, the artivist, Wen Wen Lin as facilitator/joker(neutral and non-directorial) at work, sets up the installation in action, aiming to help viewers decode and interact with fun.  This is a creative process for the viewers, the viewers control the outcome, interpretation and sense making.  The artist, the facilitator/joker remain no interpretation, and not imposition stand. 

A video recording of the process will be made into a film: My Brave New World: Faces of Change.

Habits breaking Habits breaking could be nerve breaking. The viewers make their own work of art; the less dominant hand is called for action to substitute the dominant hand to perform complicated task that is used to be done by the dominant hand.  By using the less dominant hand for action, one can break out of the routine of everyday life (note 1), the habitual ritual that we all follow on an auto-pilot mode, or for some others, theirs are dominated by neurosis, or compulsive habitual behavior.  When the less dominant hand is used, it exercise different part of the brain, to subverse and dis-orient, and by confusing its original programming.

It is hoped to be particularly useful for breaking the momentum of un-productive thinking patterns, pain habits and sufferings habits, by interrupt their patterns, and hence creates a new wild and beautiful world of dis-familiarity, liken to a new born baby, to go back to “before any programming” is in our revolutionary self-- to be the first person on earth to experience this world for the first time, would be the ideal goal.  Interrupt the patterns enough, it becomes another habit, by using one good habit to break the bad one.

Repetition is the queen:   it takes 7 times to form a habit, and 21 days to break the habits.   Our brain circuit take amgram or memory traces and produce neuron connection only if they are bombarded by information by 21 days in a roll.  The brain cells that involves will grow dendrite that connect with all the brain cell that is doing this connect in the neuro- path way, and a habit is grown.  Our brain will accept data change, and re-conditioning when repeated 21 days straight without missing a day.

Create suggestion, audio, alarm from cell phones, etc,  to remind oneself to achieve consistency.   It is harder to get rid of a habit—it is much easier to replace a bad habit with a good one.

The viewer will be led to a desk with 7 cards facing down, shuffled by the player her/himself, and each is written with different type of actions, and the viewer can pick a card, and use their less dominant hand to perform the action. The joker is the facilitator, facilitates the action.

The aim is to break negative habits. When using the less dominant hand to do the task, the viewer is asked to visualize a habit to break, or visualize the time when they are in the most emotional distressed state, or in the cycle of negative thinking:
The  7cards present 7 different commands for the viewers to perform:

(1) use your less dominant hand to write from 1 to 20,or to write in Chinese, My Brave New World: 我的美麗新世界
(2) use your less dominant hand to hold the chop stick, and pick up 10 grains of rice
(3) use your less dominant hand to shuffle a deck of cards, and dispense them

(4) use your less dominant hand to pull thread through the needle, and sew a pc of cloth on another
(5) use your less dominant hand to draw straight grid on paper, 7 x7= 49 square
(6) use your less dominant hand to draw the exit out of a maze, or labyrinth
(7) use your less dominant hand to hold an egg inside and practice Chinese calligraphy w. ink and brush

(1) using left hand as dominant hand in some culture is considered abnormal, and it calls for correction.
(2) facilitator/joker idea is influenced by method that is form in Theater of the Oppressed by Brazilian theater artivist Augusto Boal. The neutrality of the Joker card is a drama workshop leader who takes responsibility for the logistics of the process and ensures a fair proceeding, but must never comment upon or intervene in the content of the performance.

For complete album and info: please visit:!/pages/My-Brave-New-World-into-a-world-of-dis-familiarization-and-habit-breaking/195628870485153?sk=photos

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Art-Mobility: the Next Wave of Street Art Movement?

It is getting lost on the way to Willaimsberg's every 2nd Friday gallery openings, leads me to discover Theater In A Van (note 1) and  a very unique comic book shop: Desert Island (note 2).  WhO iS aFRaiD oF GeTtInG lOsT?  Especially in a bike riding community, so full of vibrant creativity by young and upcoming artists, and with street art literary on every corner, groovy, yeah.... one feels like the sixty's return, and with less acid, substituted by green conscious little boutique stores dotted in the neighborhood,  little sparkles of doing goodness, and..... wicked fun!!!

Theater In A Van, Parked in Williamsberg, Brooklyn, New York, ready to perform. Photography by Wen Wen Lin

Theater In A Van, Ticket $5-, Photography Wen Wen Lin

The mobile van/truck, recent rise in 3 yrs, has becomes a favorite choice for artist galleries, performing art venue(van theater) and the forever popular food truck.  It is  "hip" and  "chic", it can go anywhere, park anywhere (literally), and ready to open the shop or perform in 5 minutes preparation.  Not only does it avoid the high rent stress (reverse the typical landlord/artist tenant tension), it can choose the place to exhibit/perform, and be seen more crowd and more different crowd, reach more diverse locations. Apart from been more exciting and fun for the artists, they could even hand-pick their audience from the passerby on the street.  The gallery/theater can close in winter time, and open in spring, when the artists and the streets are ready.  It is liken to the olden days, when "the circus comes to town," but with a modern twist; in the case of Theater In A Van, it is definitely first of its kind.

photo courtesy: Theater In A Van

Theater In A Van, Parked in Williamsberg, Brooklyn, New York,  Photography  by Wen Wen Lin 0611

Theater In A Van, back of the van, Willimasberg, New York,  Photography  by Wen Wen Lin 0611

Theater crowd has been in the wan for the past 20 yrs or so, many of us today, couldn't even remember when is the last time that we went to the theater.  When the van parks, and engages the passerby on the sidewalk who has never gone to the theater, it is a MOVEMENT: "Theatre in a VAN! was more than a way to save money on performance space. It’s a way to truly engage a new audience, to reinvigorate society’s interest in theatre."as creator of Theater In A Van Leon Pease said: "It take theater to the street."  Because the theater happens in the back of a suv, it enables to create a unique, and very direct, and less timid, "in the moment of performing" criticism and dialog between the audience and the performers, not seen in the conventional theater.  In this sense, it also serves as a mean of social interaction on the street level.

Detail painting on Theater In A Van, Photography  by Wen Wen Lin 0611

Detail painting on Theater In A Van, Photography  by Wen Wen Lin 0611

Detail painting on Theater In A Van, Photography  by Wen Wen Lin 0611

To my opinion, it will usher a new wave and lead a new way for street art movement, after the graffiti street art movement in the late 1960s' which vibes with Hip Hop culture, bright color & loud fashion, which also dress the theater van's appearance. (note 3)  It is innovative, captivating, transforming-- it "stimulate new perspectives on the art form (theater)."  It is "Banksy in a van" to me, in the theater term.

the troupe performing inside the van, performing "elephant calf": photo courtesy: Theater In A Van

(1) Theater In A Van:  The project was started and created by theater artist Leon Pease in 2010.  Since then, Theater In A Van has produced 5 plays in one year.  Please refer to their hilarious 5 commandments in their video section on their website, which includes not having to be sober to enter the Theater In A Van.

(2) Desert Island is located in 540 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn.  Owner Gabriel is an interesting, soft-spoken guy, who is not only helpful in finding what you are looking for, he is also friendly to chat with.  1-718-388-5087
Desert Island comic book store, photography Wen Wen Lin 0611

very creative display window of Desert Island comic book store, photography Wen Wen Lin 0611

details of display window of Desert Island, photography Wen Wen Lin, 0611

details of display window of Desert Island, photography Wen Wen Lin, 0611

(3) For street art history: please see the most wanted, forever elusive street artist Banksy's recent released documentary film about street art movement: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Enso Inspiration: Karen Margolis

I came across Karen Margolis' work during BOS (Bushwick Open Studio), 2011.   Karen is as a person full of beautifully emission of energy and passionate conversationalist, and yet extremely tranquil in her disposition, just like her work--  There is something eternal about her and her work.  

Acid. Photo courtesy: Karen Margolis

In her studio, the viewers are constantly been transfixed by circles, which she draws inspiration from Japanese aesthetic and philosophy of perfection and infinity, while expressing also imperfection through the negative space with the molecular shapes of bubbles like the constantly breaking, liken the forever changing shapes of the bubbles from the ocean, constantly changing because of circumstances and situation, like our ego's interpretation of the world-- argumentative, and yet ephemeral and aesthetically stunning.  The bubbles will eventually go back to the sea as water, and to be washed up as bubbles again.  And it is in this form of constant forming and destruction, Sisyphus style, that constitute life's rhythm and beauty.

Bipolar 72. Photo courtesy: Karen Margolis

Another very interesting characteristic is the naming of her work-- "bipolar", "myopia", "dvitva", "scattered", "compulsion", etc.,  makes the connection of her having a psychology degree.  It is an interior monologue of emotions that are expressed by different color bubble conglomeration to translate different thoughts process into a visual form, and the transformation of different color as different feelings and emotion.

calculational impasse 72:  Photo courtesy: Karen Margolis

continuum: Acid. Photo courtesy: Karen Margolis

Also among some sculptures that are hung on the ceiling of her studio, one group of the sculpture: "continuum" has captured the best of my attention.  Its white cloud-like, irregular form and shapes, woven with wire, created mythic association, that reminded me of one Chinese Mythology, of the goddess, "Nu Guo", who used her body to mend the broken sky, which was shattered by the angry God of universe.  "Continuum" is like the broken pcs of sky patched up with the goddess' body, to make the world "continued"-- a coincidence, or a perfect association?  It only adds to the beauty of her work.

Continuum: photography Wen Wen Lin 0611

Continuum: photography Wen Wen Lin 0611

To see more of Karen's work, please visit her website: