Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ai WeiWei & the Interjecting Presence

Ai WeiWei, Study of Perspective - San Marco, 1995-2003

As one of many people thinking about the disappearance of Ai WeiWei lately and threatening to boycott anything Chinese (see below), it's due time to post these images of photographers interjecting their presence in front of the viewfinder.

In Study of Perspective, WeiWei traveled to national monuments – from the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, to the White House in Washington, D.C., to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. He then shoots his own arm extended in front of the camera lens as he gives each site the finger. It's not about measurement and scale as so many artists have explored in the past (Ken Josephson below) but of a critique of politics, nationalism, and culture.

Ken Josephson, Wyoming, 1971

Nick Waplington, From Other Edens, 1994

Nick Waplington, Detail from Other Edens, 1994

Lee Friedlander, 1997

It's also curious to note that the photographers above are intrinsically tied to travel - occupying/exploring/claiming the landscape behind them.

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