As mentioned to you in a previous post, I have been to London Royal Academy of Arts a few weeks ago to see Ai Wei Wei exhibition. Apart from hearing he had taken part in the design of Beijing Olympic stadium, the Bird’s Nest, I really got to discover his work when I arrived in London at the end of 2010, where he was exhibiting the Sunflower Seeds installation at the Tate Modern.
I had been really touched at the time by the questions this piece was raising such as being an individual amongst the masses. I have actually found on Youtube the video that was shown during the exhibition and that explains the genesis of Sunflower Seeds. I highly recommend you to check it out. Ai Wei Wei is a Chinese contemporary artist and activist who is fighting for human rights and freedom and denouncing corruption through is art. This actually led him to be imprisoned by the Chinese state in 2011. On that topic, I recommend you to read Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Wei Wei by Barnaby Martin in which Ai Wei Wei is telling us about his arrestation and imprisonment. The exhibition which is set up in London at the moment, is showcasing a large selection of his works of art which have been produced over the last 20 years including Hanging Man, which is used on the cover of the book I was just recommending you ; and Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn which is evoking the destruction of all the signs of Imperial China during the Chinese cultural revolution.
All the pieces were very interesting but I was particularly touched by Straight, made of steel bars recovered after the Sichuan 2008 earthquake, which is denouncing the silence of Chinese authorities around the disaster. If you want to know more about it, this video which is presented in the exhibition, explains the investigation that he has done and what role the corruption has played in the high number of victims. Another piece caught my attention: in the corner of a room, a pile of porcelaine crabs. Its name, He Xie, which means “river crab” and plays with the fact that it is pronounced the same way in Chinese as “harmony”, is the internet slang used by Chinese people to refer to the censorship enforced by the Chinese government. This video explains all the context which has led to him creating this piece. What I like about Ai Wei Wei work is that his pieces are aesthetically pleasing and are conveying a strong message. On top of that, he is often documenting the creation process with videos which allow to understand the way he works and his message. I can only strongly advise you to go and see this exhibition!
This exhibition runs until the 13th of December at the Royal Academy of Arts. If you plan on going, I strongly recommend you to book in advance to avoid the (huge) queue 🙂 Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to discover more about my little world!
Have a nice day!