Ai Weiwei (Sofa in White, 2011)
Zürich is an international community. More than a third of the city’s population does not come from Switzerland. This is not a new phenomenon but has been the case since the great wave of industrialization at the end of the nineteenth century. The coexistence and cooperation of both local and global economic and cultural systems also marks the work of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who systematically weighs cultural loss against material gain in a globalized world. For ART AND THE CITY, Ai Weiwei reinterpreted an icon of the Chinese middle class and had it made in white marble—namely the most popular sofa in China, whose design recalls a Western model from the 1970s. Installed on the Paradeplatz in the heart of the Swiss banking district, Ai Weiwei’s sofa may be read as a parable on the globalization of cultural forms.
AI WEIWEI, CHINA, *1957, lives and works in Beijing
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing – Lucerne