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  • Provenance

    Private collection, London

  • Exhibited

    London, Albion Gallery, Ai Weiwei, 16 October – 14 November 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    In this series of 24 photographs taken from the same vantage point, Ai Weiwei has documented the stages of construction of China’s Olympic Stadium, the Bird’s Nest, by taking a photograph each hour for 24 hours. He started on the evening of 3 June 2006, hence the work’s title, 6.3-4. This highly conceptual and systematic photographic exploration engages with issues of time, space, and memory. It is an attempt to capture the essence of the passing of time using a medium that by its very nature can only capture a moment frozen in time.
     
    Commissioned by the Chinese authorities, Ai Weiwei collaborated with renowned Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron to design and build China’s Olympic stadium, the hub of the Beijing Olympics, and symbolic of a supposedly modern China open to the west and capitalism. A year after this work was executed however, Ai Weiwei publicly repudiated his involvement with the Bird’s Nest project, slating it as a public relations farce. Since then, his campaigning against China’s totalitarian regime has caused severe trouble with the authorities and landed him under house arrest. But his outspoken political activities only add to the importance and significance of this work. His struggle is perfectly captured within these 24 photographs of the Olympic Stadium, a stadium which was meant to represent a rebirth but now, thanks to Ai Weiwei’s protests, stands for corruption and a violation of human rights.
     
    Looked at individually, each of the 24 photographs displays in rich detail the idiosyncratic features of the Olympic stadium construction site. However, when the 24 photographs are brought together and looked at as a group, they become interdependent. Formal aspects such as their equality of scale and consistent horizon line become emphasised, allowing the series to be read as an objective exploration of a photographer’s compositional choices. The photographs therefore display a continual back-and-forth between individuality and uniformity, expressive subjectivity and purported objectivity. This systematic approach to the serial presentation of a particular subject matter is reminiscent of German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, and also brings to mind the work of Olafur Eliasson – an artist who, like Ai Weiwei, is very much concerned with architecture, design and the environment.
     
    Ai Weiwei’s conceptual approach to documenting his both work and place of work is reminiscent of the British artist Darren Almond, who has systematically photographed his studio over long periods of time. Ai Weiwei’s approach, like Almond’s, is emotionally and physically demanding as he applies himself to photographing his subject each and every hour. The strain on his body and mind disorientates his notion of space and time, with the photographs becoming a documentation of that struggle.

22

6.3-4

2006
Set of 24 colour coupler prints.
Each: 100 x 142 cm (39 3/8 x 55 7/8 in).
Each signed, dated and numbered of 6 lower right. This work is from an edition of 6.

Estimate
£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £145,250

BRIC

14 - 15 April 2011
London