The 50 Most Political Art Pieces of the Past 15 Years

19. broken officer sculpture by Zhao Zhao, 2011

Famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's former assistant is making a name of his own. The thirty-something year old artist has created a number of videos and sculptures that reflect on his experiences as an artist in China. His ongoing series entitled Happenings is found on the internet mostly in the form of video stills of Zhao's being bloodied by someone on the street. The title recalls the whimsical Happenings produced by Allan Kaprow in the 1960s. However it is Zhao's broken officer sculpture that gained him wider notoriety as an artist in his own right. Zhao's work resembles the ruins of a monumental sculpture of a police officer. The broken pieces of an ostensibly whole statue wears a badge whose corresponded with the date of Weiwei's incarceration in 2011. Customs police confiscated the sculpture, when on its way to New York for an exhibition, deeming it "not art." Following this news, Zhao was also told he would have to pay a fine of 300,000 yuan (approximately $48,000) for an unnamed reason. Though the loss of the work is regrettable, its absorption into the cultural Chinese abyss only proves the premise of the sculptural work.

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