1. Ai Weiwei
What would a Complex Art + Design list be without Ai Weiwei? Empty and incomplete of course. Weiwei has become an international star over the last decade. Out of a number of his photographic works that exist both as reportage and performance documentation, Weiwei's Study of Perspective, 1995-2003 perfectly straddles the line between performance and photograph. The series takes us to a handful of notable manmade landmarks around the world, all symbols of ubiquitous cultural power: the Eiffel Tower, the White House, Tiananmen Square, and the Mona Lisa, to name four. Usually, grand monuments like these become the backdrop for typical tourist photos, but in Weiwei's series, instead of a happy traveler we are confronted with his foreshortened, momentous, disembodied hand. Study of Perspective points to the political potential of the photograph and stirs up questions: Is this our hand? Do we agree? Where do we stand? Weiwei's fame as an activist, artist, and cyberhero has earned him a large audience awaiting his every move.
Above: Study of Perspective, 1995—2003, 1995—2003