Ai Weiwei's Lego Cover of the Mueller Report
In Partnership with Asia Now
2 November 2020
Presented by Cahiers d'Art, the cover has been divided into 108 tiles suggesting the fragmentation of truth.
In 2019, Ai Weiwei used Lego bricks to make a 4.6-metre-tall cover of the Mueller Report, the final output of an official investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. With Americans returning to the polls again on Tuesday, 3 November, art publishers Cahiers d'Art exhibited plates derived from the cover at Paris art fair Asia Now, which continues on Ocula until 7 November.
The larger work, The Cover Page of The Mueller Report, Submitted to Attorney General William Barr by Robert Mueller on March 22, 2019 (2019) also showed at Lisson Gallery, where it appeared alongside other Lego works including a furious black scribble that charts the route taken by a refugee boat repeatedly refused landing in Italy.
The works being shown by Cahiers d'Art are 38 x 38cm sections of the full-sized work. Numbered from left to right, beginning in the top left corner, the 108 plates are sold as unique editions. According to Staffan Ahrenberg, publisher at Cahiers d'Art, dividing the work up in this way 'accentuates the powerful message about our fragmentary vision of the world and its political-economical undercurrents.'
Incomplete pieces of a bigger picture, the tiles also speak to some conspicuous absensces in the report. Ultimately, while the nearly 450-page document found that Russia conducted systematic and sweeping interference in the US election, and that the Trump campaign welcomed it, it did not find sufficient evidence of conspiracy or collusion. The investigation chose not to conclude whether or not Trump had or hadn't committed the crime of obstruction of justice, though it noted ten incidents when he may have done so.
Ahrenberg said audiences at Asia Now were interested in the work for a number of reasons. 'Visitors wondered about the relationship with the traditions of ready mades and conceptualism, as well as asked about Ai Weiwei's artistic process and the assembly of individual Lego pieces,' he said. 'Seasoned collectors appreciated the conceptual quality, while the Millennial and Z generations recognised the work's simulated effect of pixelation, akin to an overblown digital image.'
Speaking to the Evening Standard about the work in October last year, Ai said, 'What has been established in the West in the past 100 years, democracy, freedom of speech, the rule of law, those are not to be taken for granted. We can easily go back to the dark age. We should protect them.' —[O]