Quote of Note | Peter Schjeldahl on Ai Weiwei

By Stephanie Murg Comment

Ai Weiwei’s “Colored Vases” (2007-10) and “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” (1995/2009), at the Hirshhorn Museum.

“How can you know for sure that you’re free? You do or say something, and, if nobody punishes or muzzles you, you are free to that extent. Such seems the logic of Ai’s continual testing of the permissible in China. Considered in one way, he is a freelance clown bidding for status as an entitled court jester. Considered in another, which I expect to prove decisive, he embraces the serious destiny of either a historical hero, if the walls that he rams come down, or a historical martyr, if they don’t. Any verdict on his art will be incidental to the fateful outcome of his life. But, since a judgment is in order, here’s mine: Ai Weiwei, the artist, is good enough.”

-Peter Schjeldahl on the Ai Weiwei retrospective, on view through February 24, 2013 at the Hirshhorn Museum, in the October 22 issue of The New Yorker