The spectacular structure floating in the Albert Dock has been designed by Ai Weiwei (born 1957). Perhaps the most important artist working today in China, he has also developed innovative design and architectural projects for buildings and public spaces – including the Beijing Olympic Stadium.
Designed especially for Liverpool, Working Progress (Fountain of Light) takes the form of a spectacular chandelier, inspired by Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International 1919. Had Tatlin’s steel and iron glass-clad structure been built, it would have been a taller and more magnificent symbol of modernity than the Eiffel Tower. It was also a product of the era of industrialisation across Europe that shaped the modern world – and Liverpool especially. In referencing Tatlin’s iconic work, Ai Weiwei reminds us of the Constructivists’ Utopian ambitions for a brave new world, embodied in physical structures and amazing feats of architecture that would match the new age. The work can be seen as a symbol of the radical change currently taking place in China, as much as of the cultural and utopian ambitions that are transforming the city of Liverpool.