Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 27 - April 26 Occupy Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei does not have a passport today. But he is mounting a large set of works on Alcatraz. It is really a poignant statement.

The works are With Wind, Trace, Refraction, Stay Tuned, Illumination, Blossom and Yours Truly.

With Wind is a large dragon kite and a collection of smaller kites painted by Chinese kite makers. It is a dying tradition. The kites are not flying free. They are indoors, captured in the New Industries Building. It was the site of prison labor for over 20 years.

Trace is a collection of portraits of 176 imprisoned or exiled people. They are prisoners of conscience. The portraits cover the floor of another part of the New Industries Building. They are entirely executed in LEGO® bricks. What is the relationship between the individual and bricks of their experience, between the bricks representing individuals and society?

Refraction is a flying wing constructed of Tibetan solar cookers. Viewers observe it from the gun gallery halls of the New Industries Building. There, armed guards looked down upon the prisoners working.

Stay Tuned are a series of recordings, spoken words, poems and music by people who have been detained for their beliefs. Some of the recordings were made in their prisons. The work is installed in 12 cells. The audience is invited to sit in the cells and listen.

Illumination, in the Hospital, has two sound recordings. One is from the Hopi Eagle Dance. In Hopi belief, the eagle connected the Hopi and the Creator. The second recording is of Tibetan Buddhist chants. The recordings are set in two tiled cells reserved for those deemed mentally ill.

Blossom, in the Hospital, encrusts the toilets, sinks and tubs used by prisoners with a dense installation of white porcelain flowers.

Yours Truly, in the dining hall is the final intervention. Here participants may write personal post cards to some of the prisoners in the Trace installation. The cards are illustrated with the plant life and birds of their homes each.

There is a nice article about the event at www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/arts/design/ai-weiwei-takes-his-work-to-a-prison.html. There will be more. The organizers are For-site Foundation /@Large, working in San Francisco.

It open today and runs through April 26.

Ai Weiwei @aiww showing @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz on Alcatraz Island. The ferry is $18.25-$30, but admission is Free