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Ai Weiwei FAIRYTALE The scenario is, indeed, straight from a fairy by csgirla


Ai Weiwei FAIRYTALE The scenario is, indeed, straight from a fairy

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									Ai Weiwei

The scenario is, indeed, straight from a fairy tale: One fine summer month, 1001
guests, weary from their journey from distant China, will reside with the
inhabitants of a small town in North Hessen, and all involved will have a tale to
                                                                                        Friedrichsplatz 18
tell… It was on a research visit to Kassel, a town clearly marked by the                34117 Kassel
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physiognomy of the Modern that the inspiration for this bold fantasy (from 1798 to      F +49-561-70 72 7 57
1830 the Brothers Grimm lived and worked here and the town is venue for some
                                                                                        Leiterin Kommunikation
of their fairytales) came to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. A physiognomy, which has         und Pressesprecherin
                                                                                        Head of Communications and Press
long interested Ai Weiwei in his artistic work in the fields of art, architecture and   Catrin Seefranz
design and in which he has found provoking images in his most popular works
such as the Han vase painted with the Coca-Cola-Logo. How the non-            
homogeneity of Kassel is seen from a Chinese perspective, formed by a
generally different understanding of and relationship to the traditional and the
modern and at present in the process of a quite unsentimental modernisation, is
with certainty one of the questions Ai Weiwei’s “experimental test” poses.

“To bring 1001 Chinese citizen to Kassel is to set a condition such that every
individual participant has a chance to confront each other with their ordinary lives
and their attending one of the most important contemporary art events. It is about
personal experience, awareness, and consciousness, as well as direct
confrontation and enlightenment they have throughout the whole process. I
believe this is the most important and meaningful experience that one can have
than most other cultural exchange experiences.” Ai Weiwei

Thanks to the enthusiasm and engagement by Ai Weiwei and his gallery Urs
Meile, Beijing – Lucerne, this experiment will be realised for documenta 12 – and
the population of Kassel, which will expand this summer to four or five times its
normal size thanks to art tourists from all over the world, will have another 1001
Chinese visitors (0.6% of the population) in addition.

The first call for applications on Ai Weiwei’s Weblog resulted in 3,000
registrations and candidates are now being selected who will travel to Kassel for
one week in five groups of 200. The FAKE team – Ai Weiwei’s temporary travel
agency – will organise and co-ordinate the trip: participants will be reimbursed
only for travel and accommodation expenses. Although in China travel to Europe
is very much a privilege enjoyed by the upper classes (to work in Europe, in
contrast, is not, as is quite clear from the China Towns and other working
communities in many places), the Fairytale travel group will be heterogeneous
and include farmers, teachers, students, artists or engineers of both sexes.
The Chinese visitors will be visible as tourists: dress, town guide, maps, lunch
bags, all accessories are to be designed by Ai Weiwei and his team. Whether
they imitate the classic tourist uniform (basically unchanged from the times of
Tati’s mesmerizing Monsieur Hulot with a pouch for documents) or quote those
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worn in the Cultural Revolution – we’re not telling yet. One thing is certain: 1,001     34117 Kassel
                                                                                         T +49-561-70 72 7 81
guests will discover the city according to plan for around one month and will enjoy      F +49-561-70 72 7 57
the help of guides and interpreters on their way. Another sure thing is that those
                                                                                         Leiterin Kommunikation
travelling will document their experiences for Ai Weiwei’s artistic work Fairytale,      und Pressesprecherin
                                                                                         Head of Communications and Press
just as Ai Weiwei and his team will record the history of Fairytale in precise detail.   Catrin Seefranz

“The documentary will do a full coverage of the project which reflects people’s
ordinary life, high culture performance, bare life and education” Ai Weiwei

When the visually coded protagonists of Fairytale meet the inhabitants of the city
and the visitors to the exhibition, just what forms, which questions, which images
will emerge? Which images will emerge in the public, media-based discourse? (a
first glimpse of this became apparent as rumours of the project hit the press with
the headlines “the Chinese are coming!“) Just what form will the encounters,
contacts, discussions take?) How does a space change when relations are
artificially or artistically altered in this way? Who looks at whom, when, where and
how? Which characters will reveal themselves as pro or contra, and finally: what
will remain?

As a work in the public domain that has left the monumental behind, Fairytales
will integrate into the social texture of Kassel. And in this way it might just leave
one or another lasting mark on the place.
On the financial aspect:

The dimensions of this project are “fairytale-like” in many aspects – also in the
financial one. As one can imagine, the production and realisation of the project
are very complicated. The 3.1 million Euro required were raised thanks to the
initiative of Ai Weiwei’s gallery owner Urs Meile through two Swiss Foundations,
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the Leister Foundation, Switzerland, and the Erlenmeyer Foundation,                 34117 Kassel
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Switzerland, who see their engagement as an investment and who have                 F +49-561-70 72 7 57
produced a re-financing plan with both the gallery and the artist. In some ways,
                                                                                    Leiterin Kommunikation
the unusual manner of production belongs to the history of this work of art – and   und Pressesprecherin
                                                                                    Head of Communications and Press
is a tale worth telling regarding developments in the art market itself.            Catrin Seefranz


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