a world of common wealth

29 Okt 2009 | von Chris Dercon |

why is it that the exhibition “so sorry” presenting ai weiwei is liked so much by so many visitors? indeed, not unlike the exhibition by the photographer andreas gursky two years ago…
we now know that much of gursky’s success was owed to the public’s huge curiosity for contemporary expressions of capitalist (over)production and accumulation in an era of financial spectacle. the works of andreas gursky themselves also being part of a privatised, globalised world of resources and wealth. it should therefore come as no surprise that with the economic and financial post-crisis, the actions, creations and imaginations of ai weiwei have become so popular – BUT FOR ENTIRELY DIFFERENT REASONS.

ai weiwei’s work and actions do not only comment on the growing tensions between the public and the private or between the collective and the individual – tensions not only felt in china. indeed, as toni negri and michael hardt write in their latest book “commonwealth”, many of us want to renegotiate the idea of the common itself: “With the title of this book, commonwealth, we mean to indicate a return of some of the themes of classic treatises of government, exploring the institutional structure and political constitution of society. we also want to emphasize…the need to institute and manage a world of common wealth, focusing on and expanding our capacities for collective production and self-government.” it seems that the public is discovering the proposals by negri and hardt through embracing the alternatives presented by ai weiwei.

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