Germany features Chinese activist-artist Ai Weiwei’s “bang” in Venice

by Diane Francis

Ai Weiwei chairs

VENICE — Ai Weiwei’s “bang” is a famous and a whimsical look at, or metaphor to describe, our interlocking and unconnected existence. It’s also interesting to note that only a few of these dozens of stools (886) are in unique colors, representing the fact that the Chinese population is 97% Han ethnically. Figuratively, the colored chairs not only represent the small percentage of people from minorities living under that oppressive regime, but also signifies how few individuals have freedom or can “show their true colors”.

The context of “bang” is interesting too: it was the principle exhibit in Germany’s Pavilion at the official Biennale. It occupied a preferred place, despite his house arrest and despite the fact that German artists are highly regarded globally. It was a statement of import, given that Germany is the largest western exporter of manufactured goods to China.