Ai Weiwei & Marcel Duchamp - Debate Within the Art World Essay
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Artists’ intentions are shaped by context, materials, ideas and audience.
Discuss this statement with consideration of how audience interpretations of artworks have caused debate in the art world.
An artwork is often an artist’s subjective expression of their context. The ideology of artists, their perceptions of their contexts and the materials available to them play a significant role in the creation of their artworks. However, an artist’s intentions can be misinterpreted or disregarded by their audience, often sparking fervent discussion within the art world. Through the artists Ai Weiwei and Marcel Duchamp, we can clearly see how personal reactions to an environment shape the intent of artworks. Additionally, from their audiences’…show more content… The subject matter of sunflower seeds has many indirect meanings, one being associated with his childhood. His father, Ai Qing was a renowned modern poet in China. In 1958, Ai Qing was accused of being anti-communist, forbidden to write, and exiled to Xinjiang province, where Weiwei spent his youth. In this interpretation, the actual image of sunflower seeds represents his childhood experience of growing up in a farming area where sunflower seeds were in abundance, whilst also reflecting on the injustice the fascist government did to his father’s freedom.
The work is also considered a direct allusion to the demagogic principles of the former ruler of China, Mao Zedong. Chairman Mao is the sun, and his loyal followers are the sunflowers surrounding him; this is a metaphor for the unwavering obedience of almost all of the Chinese population under the rein of the communist leader. The seeds served as a symbol of Mao’s godlike power to render the world fertile, a theme that was often illustrated in his countless political portraits. This sunflower motif originated from a popular propaganda poster, which Weiwei exploits to remind his Chinese audience of the cycle of political bias that has ruled their country for decades. Through the structural decision to juxtapose the organic form of a sunflower seed with the cold, hard, industrial choice of materials, the work has become a subtle criticism of political