Houses made of tea, old halls, teapot spouts, and a lotus blossom made of life jackets

On the occasion of ‘Langer Tag der Flucht’ (September 30th), 3 classes of Expositur went to see an exhibition of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in the garden of Belvedere Palace and 21erHaus. At the moment the latter houses the original interior of a hall dedicated to the ancestors of a Chinese tea merchant clan. Ai Weiwei has transferred the ancestral hall, whose owners had been expelled during the Cultural Revolution, from China to Vienna.

It was only gradually that we could classify the strange odour in the room. It turned out to be huts made of hundreds of kilograms of tea. Another rectangular exhibition space showed thousands of broken antique teapot sprouts.

The second part of the exhibition took us to the garden of Belvedere Palace. There we saw copies of bronze heads showing animals of the Chinese zodiac, e.g. ox, rabbit, dragon etc. We learnt that most of the originals have gone missing.

The strongest impression was created by a lotus blossom floating in the pond of Belvedere Palace. It was only on closer inspection that we realized what this beautiful blossom was made of: worn life jackets that refugees in Greece and Turkey had left behind...

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