My wife and I have a 7-year-old who reads the way a chain-smoker smokes. He can put on a soccer uniform while turning the pages to “Captain Awesome;” we’ve had to forbid him to bring Encyclopedia Brown to the dinner table. Most of the time, he’s as ornery as any boy his age. But give him a book about birds or leprechauns and he’s hypnotized.
Some people consider this downright odd. A woman who spotted our son sunk into a book — a paper book rather than a Kindle, no less — in a coffee shop in California’s high desert a few months ago couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “He’s like a kid in the movies!” she shouted. That may’ve been a compliment; I can’t quite tell. (Maybe she’d been watching Wes Anderson?)
Our concern is whether he will find some other kid who shares his enthusiasm. So far, he hasn’t.
Renowned Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei has just launched his largest solo exhibition to date, calledEvidence, in Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau. The show is expansive, sprawling across 3,000 square meters and 18 rooms. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an installation called Stools, which features a staggering number of 6,000 wooden stools arranged in the atrium. The stools, collected from rural villages across northern China, date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties as well as the Republican period, expressing the centuries-old aesthetic and daily lifestyle of rural China. Packed tightly together on the floor of the atrium, the stools form a colossal and interlocked surface whose sheer size is astonishing.
I had the pleasure to see his last exhibit when it was at the AGO in Toronto and I have to say for a modern artist his work is amazing and thought provoking.
“In a lot of ways this is a city built on Pretend. We pretend that we aren’t getting older, that we can still be out until four in the morning and it won’t be any different when we wake up than it was in our early 20s. We pretend that we have plenty of time to accomplish all the goals we think…
Then a Woman appeared. Putting her arms around him, she said, “Watch what I do, John.” John looked. The boys changed to a pack of snarling wild animals whose growls sent terror to his heart. Then the woman put out her hand. The beasts changed again, to a frolicking flock of lambs.