Online Game Lets You Smash Ai Weiwei’s Urns

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995/2009; Colored Vases, 2007-2010. From Ai Weiwei "According to What" exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Photo courtesy of author Joseph Morris via Flickr

Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995/2009), Colored Vases (2007-2010).
Photo courtesy of author Joseph Morris via Flickr.

There is a new art world game out! For every struggling artist infuriated by the super-stardom of a few—like the David’s Toe smasher or the Rothko vandal—for all the mega-dealers whose mansions keep catching on fire, and for all the frustrated art collectors who come up short in auction house bidding wars, Grayson Earle has heard your cries and come up with an excellent stress-relief tool: Ai Weiwei Whoops!, an Ai Weiwei urn-smashing game.

It was inspired by the already-infamous event that took place on February 16, 2014 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), when Maximo Caminero broke one of the Ai Weiwei’s painted Han Dynasty urns. He was excited by Ai’s own destruction of cultural heritage and infuriated by being ignored by PAMM, who instead of supporting local artists brought in an international superstar.

Camino, citing the 1995 triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, hanging behind the urns at the PAMM, claimed: “I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.” Ai told the AP that he did not follow Caminero’s logic: “You cannot stand in front of a classical painting and kill somebody and say that you are inspired by [the artist]… This doesn’t make any sense.”

Screenshot of Ai Weiwei Whoops!

Screenshot of Ai Weiwei Whoops!

As messy as that fiasco may have been, the resulting game is good, clean, cathartic fun. The game invites players to smash virtual Ai Weiwei vases against a Mardi Gras-purple backdrop. And like the holiday, the game is chock-full of confetti and massive property damage. A ticker tabulates the quickly-rising cost of the player’s smashing spree. We hope Greyson is already hard at work on an app version.

As Earle writes on the game’s “what” page, “Would Ai take offense to the destruction of digital representations of his work, or is it the loss of material, valuable property that provoked his response?” Something tells us Ai would love this game.

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