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Pensioner fall damages Ai Weiwei sculpture

George Mills · 12 Apr 2013, 16:50

Published: 12 Apr 2013 16:50 GMT+02:00

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The sculpture that Ai Weiwei created jointly with the Romanian-American artist Serge Spitzer is titled "Ghost Gu Coming Down the Mountain".

Until yesterday it was formed of 96 perfectly aligned jars. 

However, that number is now only 95.

"One of the jars that make up the exhibit was broken," sources at Andalusia's Contemporary Arts Centre (CAAC) told The Local.

"It was an elderly person who tripped," the museum explained.

The sculpture makes up part of a larger exhibition of Ai Weiwei work on display at the CAAC.

Some of this work is protected by alarm systems and security ropes, but in the case of the damaged sculpture — held in a separate room — members of the public could walk around the exhibit to examine it more closely.

Unfortunately on Thursday morning, a woman stumbled and broke a vase.

The damage involved an almost perfectly circular hole, according to newspaper El Correo de Andalucía. 

After the incident, the museum's director decided immediately to close off the room where the jars were held. 

The official version of the incident on Thursday was that there had been an electrical fault..

On Friday, however, the museum told The Local that the closure of  "Ghost Gu Coming Down the Mountain" was due to an "accident".

The museum also told The Local that Ai Weiwei had already been contacted about the damage to his work.

However, the artist had yet to respond to the news.

The exhibit remains closed and experts are currently assessing the damage to determine when the exhibit can be opened to the public again. 

The work is insured, and the museum will incur no financial loss in the wake of the accident.

The individuals jars in Ghost Gu Coming Down the Mountain are based on a vase from the Yuan period (1269– 1368).

The vase's motif of a cart being drawn by a tiger and a leopard was probably copied from an earlier woodcut, reported art review Magasin 3.

Story continues below…

Weiwei's sculpture plays with ideas of originality and fakes. 

The artist himself has received a great deal of international media attention in recent years because of his continued resistance to the Chinese regime.

He was one of the most outspoken critics of the country's communist regime.

In a film about his life and art, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, the artist said: "There are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship."

In 2011, Weiwei was detained for two months by the Chinese authorities. He was eventually released on bail.

In the first four days following the artist's arrest, his whereabouts remained unknown.

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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