Exhibitions/ Art Object

Map of China

Artist:
Ai Weiwei (Chinese, born Beijing, 1957)
Date:
2006
Culture:
China
Medium:
Ironwood (tieli mu) from dismantled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) temples
Dimensions:
H. 15 3/4 in. (40 cm); W. 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm); D. 31 1/2 in. (80 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Lent by Stockamp Tsai Collection
Rights and Reproduction:
© Ai Weiwei
Not on view
This map of China is constructed out of interlocking wood elements salvaged from destroyed temples of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The work is a poignant assertion that modern China is a mosaic of fragments from its past. The jigsaw-puzzle-like configuration of its heterogeneous pieces may also be read as a symbol of China’s cultural and ethnic diversity, asserting that while China remains distinctly singular, it is a fusion of countless individuals. Ai’s Map challenges our ability to imagine how such a complex state came into existence, how it has managed to survive for so long, and whether or not it can be maintained.