Chinese artist to fly 1,001 Chinese to Germany

5th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 June 2007, HONG KONG (AP) _ What does a Chinese pig farmer have to do with modern art? Artist Ai Weiwei wants to find out by flying 1,001 ordinary Chinese citizens, including workers, pig farmers, students and street vendors, to visit the Documenta contemporary art show in the central German city of Kassel.

5 June 2007

HONG KONG (AP) _ What does a Chinese pig farmer have to do with modern art? Artist Ai Weiwei wants to find out by flying 1,001 ordinary Chinese citizens, including workers, pig farmers, students and street vendors, to visit the Documenta contemporary art show in the central German city of Kassel.

The mass visit itself, a project called "Fairytale," will make up Ai's entry to the 12th Documenta, an exhibit held once every five years, his blog says.

"The basic concept behind the work is to create a condition which encourages self-experience and extends people's participation of art," Ai was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily newspaper.

The Chinese citizens will travel to Kassel in five successive groups from June 12 to July 4, according to details posted on Ai's blog. Each group will stay in the German city for about a week.

Participants are required to stay in Kassel during the week and allow themselves to be photographed and videotaped.

The art Web site Artnet.com reported that Ai's guests will wear uniforms designed by Ai and his team, and will attend an unspecified group demonstration once a day.

China Daily said the Chinese visitors will stay in a two-level dormitory converted from a Volkswagen factory, with each floor divided into booths that house eight.

Ai said such conditions aren't intentional, but are due to the lack of hotel space in Kassel, according to the report.

The artist, who is in Germany preparing for his project, did not immediately respond to e-mailed questions from The Associated Press.

Ai is covering food, lodging, travel and insurance costs for his guests, and Artnet.com reported the project will cost 3 million euros (US$4 million), with funding coming from the Swiss Leister and Erlenmeyer Foundations and Ai's main gallery, the Galerie Urs Meile.

Ai's group includes farmers, workers, students and white-collar workers, among them pig farmers and a cake vendor who works in Ai's neighborhood in Beijing, China Daily said.

The artist reportedly said he chose participants for whom foreign travel is rare.

While international travel is common for China's affluent, it remains unaffordable for many average workers.

An early shortlist included people from 21 different regions of China who ranged in age from 2 1/2 to 69, Ai's blog said.

Ai's project's name, "Fairytale" is apparently a reference to Kassel's connection to the fairy tale writers Brothers Grimm. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, whose stories include Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, lived and worked in Kassel, according to the city's official Web site.

Spokeswoman Maria Gosse at the German Embassy in Beijing said Ai's guests were treated as regular visa applicants and most were granted their travel papers.

"As far as I know, there were no special problems," she said, adding, "the project was very well prepared."

AP

Subject: German news

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