What does the present owe to the past?

A few good stories or wisdom passed down.

In return, relics collect dust and lead an empty existence.

Archaic clay and pigment hold the past by a thread.

Anxious eyes look forward and forget.

The old becomes priceless, but for misguided reasons.

Wisdom is not for sale, nor is the link to those who came before us.

To forget them is a crime. To render them useless in a sin.

The spirit of now brings together two ends of a landscape.

A stilled vessel breathes again when given a chance.

Those anchored to the past fail to see today’s light.

Those looking to what has yet to come miss obvious joy.

Time is infinite and boldly hued.

To let go is to see all that’s possible.

Ai Weiwei – Colored Vases 2007-2010
Han Dynasty vases dipped in Japanese industrial paint.

– – –

Words by c.b.w. 2013

Photograph captured at an exhibition entitled, “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”

– – –

c.b.w. 2013


17 thoughts on “Liberation

  1. Very thought provoking. History with industrial paint says something but is it a good thing? I have when people take cabinet cards of people and turn them into art. Those are somebody’s ancestors. So Sad.


    • I know the feeling as I’m right there with you. At the same time, I am fascinated by his ability to evoke such strong emotions and illicit a difficult debate by one act. It’s powerful to say the least.


  2. What is doubly interesting to me is that he has chosen vases from the period/culture that in so many ways ‘define’ China and the Chinese. It’s an act of daring to use them in this way.

    Am I alone amongst your readers in finding the finished product beautiful, by the way?


  3. While I think the end results are beautiful in their own right, to cover up the heritage they represent really makes my tummy queazy. The saying about repeating history if we forget it always comes to mind at times like this. It’s important for our future to remember the past, no matter how bad it’s been, so we can push past it and make a better tomorrow. πŸ™‚


    • Instead of forgetting the past, I think Weiwei’s message is to remember our past and make it part of our present. He is actually quite cognizant of history and the importance of it to humanity. His work seems destructive at first, but in the end he is getting people to think more carefully about where they came from and how the past shapes the present.


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