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Ai Weiwei Chinese

Not on view

Ai’s reinterpretation of a ruyi (wish fulfillment) scepter, an emblem of longevity and good fortune, recontextualizes its traditional iconography to insinuate new layers of meaning. The ruyi’s form is derived from a mushroom-shaped fungus that for more than two millennia was thought to confer immortality. Ai’s scepter riffs on this belief by making its health-granting properties anatomically specific. Composed of ceramic human organs, Ai’s scepter calls to mind not long life but humankind’s physical vulnerability.

Ruyi, Ai Weiwei (Chinese, born Beijing, 1957), Glazed ceramic, China

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