AI WEIWEI’S CONTRIBUTION to Documenta 12 is titled Fairytale, but in China, where Ai is as famous as a movie star, people have acerbically taken to calling it “Yellow Peril.” The original concept for the artwork was simple: Round up 1,001 Chinese people from the artist’s sprawling, blog-mediated social network, give them matching clothes and luggage, fly them en bloc to Kassel, billet them on bamboo bunks in Ai-designed temporary quarters inside an old textile factory, and set them to wandering the city for the three-month duration of the show, which opens June 16. A spokesperson at Ai’s studio says, “To design also means to set up a condition, which makes individuals change. The project is about a new way to communicate, to participate, a new spiritual condition.” The primary design object here, in other words, is not clothing or suitcases but the participants’ experiences, even
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