Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds exhibit at Tate Modern reminded me of an exhibit I saw in Mike Weiss Gallery, Chelsea, New York last month.
The exhibit, Real Fake, featured artist Liao Yibai's larger-than-life scaled glittering sculptures of commodities such as iPhones, diamond rings, handbags and cash (Chinese currency Renminbi).
Though, obviously it meant to be a damning take on the (Chinese people's) ever-increasing consumerism, it invited joy and giggle. The thoughts behind the shining surface was so well sealed behind the metal sheet, that it was largely lost in the initial glances. It demanded the penetrating cerebral power to see past the superficial attraction. Unfortunately that concentration was hard to come by in this crowded neighborhood, where visitors tend to gallery hopping. Most visitors gleefully snap pictures of these whimsical artifacts. This fault with this set of collection was the same as Tom Otterness's Life Undergroud series. They meant to criticize but the results seemed rather quite delightful and complimenting. Or a celebration.
Undeniably, the concept behind the show was interesting but the philosophy didn't come cross as genuine and was just as the title claimed, Real Fake. This group of work, however interesting, hardly generated any debate and intellectual exchange or meditation therefore didn't much real impact. Even the criticism struck me as too simplistic and rather a cheap shot. The show lacked Mr. Ai's profundity and mesmerizing effect. Execution failed the design, or perhaps the design was the flaw.
I do like the drawings and designs by Liao. I also overhead similar sentiments from a fellow visitor. She understood the value of this exhibit well.