WeiWei, Ai b.1957 / Forever
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The notion of preserving the spiritual and aesthetic qualities underlying craft and discovering in them an eternal element is an integral part of Ai's sensibility. In "Forever" both the title and form of the piece suggest the notion of eternity. Ai arranges Forever-brand bicycles in a circle. Since the company's establishment in China in 1940, these bicycles have become the most iconic brand in China. The use of the bicycle as an object of art recalls Duchamp's Readymade Bicycle Wheel (1913), as well as Ai's frequent tactic of retaining the structure of an object while eliminating its original function and reformulating it into something new. Here, Ai retains the external form of the bicycle, formerly China's most widespread mode of transportation, while eliminating its function, just as the bicycles's raison d'etre is being made obsolete by the automobile in Chinese society. The monumental sculpture of bicycles interlinked in a circle elicits questions of harmony, eternity and equality in a rapidly changing society.


“Forever” Bicycles comprises parts of 42 bicycles of the “Forever” brand, a classic reconfiguration of utilitarian articles bordering on abstraction. The interplay of these dramatic circles and lines change constantly from different perspectives.
(Charles Merewether, “Ai Weiwei Works: Beijing 1993 – 2003”)

"an iconic object of Chinese life [transformed] into a cog in a giant geometric structure, pointedly abstracting it of any content".
(Jonathan Napack, in “Ai Weiwei Works," Charles Merewether (ed.): Beijing 1993 – 2003)

"(Ai Weiwie) realized “Forever” Bicycles, 2003. A shiny mass of brand-new bikes disassembled and tessellated into a giant sphere, the work is at once a refutation of the developmental teleology at the heart of current state ideology; an allusion to the manual laborers, themselves “interchangeable parts,” who are powering China’s rise; and a biting commentary on the eclipse of socialist-era brands."
(Philip Tinari,"A Kind of True Living: The Art of Ai Weiwei", June 1, 2007)

"Forever, the earliest work in the exhibition, has connections back to the artist’s fascination with the father-figure of conceptual art, Marcel Duchamp. 42 bicycles of the ‘Forever’ brand, the favourite means of transport of the Chinese for decades, have been ingeniously stacked in a cylindrical tower, a ‘cycle’ that goes nowhere, since all the handlebars and pedals have been removed."
(From the exhibition "Ai WeiWei", Louisiana & De Pont Museums, 2011-2012)

"This piece is an apt distillation of the artist’s art form: a unique blend of innovative craftsmanship and provocative contemplation, indicative of Ai’s outlook in both life and in art—one that challenges and regenerates its surroundings with more than mere acquiescence."
(From the Sotheby's online catalogue, Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale, October 4, 2015)

Ai WeiWei (b.1957, China)

Forever, 2003

42 bicycles
Edition: 3/5
275 x 450 cm.
108 1/4 x 177 3/16 in.
Provenance:
Nicholas Robinson Gallery, New-York, USA Current Location:
The Netherlands - De Pont Museum InstallationFar East

exhibitions

ReView De Pont at 25: anniversary exhibition
De Pont Museum, Netherlands
09/16/2017 - 02/18/2018

Megacities Asia (another version exhibited)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, US
April 2016 - July 2016

In Conversation
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
April 2014 - September 2015

Ai Weiwei: According to What?
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
August 2013 - October 2013

Ai Weiwei: According to What?
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, USA
April 2013 - July 2013

Ai Weiwei: According to What?
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., USA
October 2012 - February 2013

Ai Weiwei
De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands
March 2012 - June 2012

Ai Weiwei
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
November 2011 - February 2012

Ai Weiwei Absent
Taipei Fine Arts Museum,Taiwan
October 2011 - January 2012

Human Rites
Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA
June 2010 - October 2010

Ai Weiwei: According to What?
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
July 2009 - November 2009

Ai Weiwei. Exhibition in conjunction with Ai Weiwei: Under Construction
Campbelltown Arts Center, Sydney, Australia
May 2008 - July 2008

Fortunate Objects
Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, USA
December 2007 - February 2008

Ai Weiwei
Robert Miller Gallery, New York, USA
September 2004 - October 2004

Ai Weiwei in Gent
Gent, Caermersklooster, Belgium
April 2004 - June 2004

publications

Eunju Park, Collector
Art Books (Book), November 2015, pp.334

B. Pollack , ‘It Is Impossible to Simplify My Feelings About China’: Ai Weiwei on His Controversial Art, in 2006
ARTnews (Magazine), July 2015
View Publication »

Ai Weiwei: According to What?
Zatista (blog) -The premium source for original art online (Online), 3/10/2013
View Publication »

N. Ben Asher, Chinese with bicycles
Time Out Tel Aviv (Magazine), January, 2013

M. Kataoka, Ai Weiwei - According to What?
Prestel Verlag (in collaboration with Hirshhorn Museum, Washington and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (Catalogue), October, 2012
View Publication »

S. Evans, Olympic Artist Finds Sanctuary in Smithsonian Museum
(Online), October, 2012
View Publication »

J. Hamilton, Ai WeiWei
Time Out Hong Kong, China (Magazine), March, 2011

N. Joseph, Ai Weiwei: Dropping The Urn Ceramic Works
Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, United States (Journal), 2010

K. Mami, C. Merewether, M. Hironori, Ai Weiwei - According to What?
Mori Art Museum and Tankosha Publishing Co., Mori, Japan (Catalogue), 2009

K. Smith, H.U. Obrist, B. Fibicher, Ai Weiwei
Phaidon Press Ltd. London, United Kingdom (Other), 2009

C.Fajardo-Hill, Fortunate Objects
Charta/CIFO, Milan, Italy (Catalogue), 2008

C. Merewether, Ai Weiwei: Under Construction
University of South Wales Press,Sydney, Australia (Book), 2008

C. Yinghua Lu, Mr. Big
Frieze - Contemporary Art and Culture (Magazine), June, July, August, 2008
View Publication »

D.R. McFadden, L.S. Sims, H.Hotchner, Second Lives - remixing the ordinary
Museum of Arts and Design (Catalogue), 2008

C. Lyon, New China New Art
Prestel Verlag, Munich, Germany (Catalogue), 2008

K. Smith, Ai Weiwei
Mary Boone Gallery, London, UK (Catalogue), 2008

C. Merewether, Ai Weiwei Works: Beijing 1993- 2003
Timezone 8 Ltd., Hong Kong, China (Catalogue), 2003

Artwork History
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  • provenance
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  • exhibitions
  • multiple

related works / Ai WeiWei / Far East / Installation