Ai Weiwei and the search for humanity
Bicycles, letterboxes, shoes, violins, thousands of sunflower seeds, and a treadmill – objects from the four decades of artistic work by Ai Weiwei. They all represent topics that are close to the heart of the untiring activist and critic of authoritarian systems. They can be seen in the form of numerous installations in the new exhibition "Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity" at the Albertina modern.
The museum in the Künstlerhaus dedicates its most comprehensive retrospective ever to the Chinese conceptual artist in spring 2022. Numerous ready-mades, wall works, sculptures, photographs, and films give an overview of his oeuvre. Ai Weiwei is considered to be one of the most important artists of our time, who always focuses his gaze wherever he sees freedom of opinion and human rights in danger.
Ai Weiwei, who was born in Beijing in 1957, first came into contact with protest movements as a young man in New York's East Village. His first works were characterized by these experiences. When he returned to China to visit his dying father, he experienced the immediate aftermath of the massacre on Tiananmen Square.
Over the years, his outstretched middle finger, which he holds up at well-known buildings, became his trademark. His anger is never directed at people, but calls power relationships into question. Many of his photographs are part of the exhibition. As are countless pictures composed of Lego bricks.
And then there are exhibition pieces that leave nobody cold. Including the cell in which Ai Weiwei was imprisoned for 81 days and constantly surrounded by cameras and guards. He later reconstructed it from memory. A seemingly endless list on several wall panels bears the names of those children who lost their life during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Thousands died when their schools, which showed signs of structural deficiencies, collapsed on top of them.
The exhibition also deals with current issues. Ai Weiwei, who now lives in exile in Portugal, uses his works to draw attention to the refugee catastrophe in the Mediterranean or the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan. His drive appears to be unbroken.
Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity
March 16 – September 4, 2022