Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei brings a temple to Vienna

“Everything is art – everything is politics” says Ai Weiwei. The conceptual artist, documentary filmmaker, and activist, is an active critic of the regime in his homeland of China and has been repeatedly repressed as a result. Through his works he also frequently makes reference to current political issues such as the refugee crisis in Europe. Displacement, migration, and free movement as triggers for transformative processes in humans and objects is a theme that runs like a common thread through the artist’s life.

A temple in a museum

These themes are also the focus of his exhibition in Vienna. The centerpiece is the ancestral temple of a tea trading family from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the main hall of which will be faithfully re-created in the 21er Haus. The 14-meter high wooden temple is made from over 1,300 individual pieces and this will be the first time it is exhibited outside of China. The 21er Haus was also built for a different location and a different function, as a temporary pavilion for the Brussels World’s Fair of 1958, and as such the two buildings will create a fascinating dialogue. Other works will complement this large-scale installation. Some of these works are also to do with China’s tea culture and its political aspects, and are closely related to the history of the original owners of the temple.

The exhibition, entitled “translocation – transformation” also extends to the baroque gardens of the nearby Upper Belvedere: Ai Weiwei’s monumental installation, “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” will be situated at the large water feature in front of the palace. With twelve bronze heads representing the twelve zodiac symbols of the Chinese horoscope, the artist is commenting on the destruction in 1860 by French and British troops of a fountain in front of the Yuaming Yuan summer palace in Beijing, which was built around 1749.

Ai Weiwei also addresses the current refugee situation with "F Lotus", an installation created out of 1,005 used life jackets. Arranged like a calligraphic F, the 201 rings made from five vests each float like lotus flowers on the water of the Baroque pond in the park of the Upper Belvedere. And in the staircase of the Upper Belvedere, Ai Weiwei causes the creature Lu to rise like a dragon. The filigree sculpture was made by hand in the style of traditional Chinese dragons: Thin bamboo poles form the frame, onto which silk is glued. The figure represents one of the many mythical creatures from the Shanhaijing (the Classic of Mountains and Seas), the oldest handed-down collection of Chinese mythology.

Ai Weiwei. translocation - transformation

July 14 – Nov 20, 2016

21er Haus

Arsenalstraße 1, 1030 Wien
  • Prices

    • Young people under 19   €0
    • Your benefit with the Vienna Card: 21% off
  • Opening times

    • We, 11:00 - 21:00
    • Th - Su, 11:00 - 18:00
    • Public Holidays (including Monday and Tuesday) 11 am-6 pm
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Double swinging doors   140  cm  wide )
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • 1 Parking spaces for people with disabilities
    • Elevator available
      • 100 cm wide and 250 cm low , Door 90 cm wide
    • Further information
      • Seeing eye dogs allowed
      • 2 Wheelchair spaces available (spaces in the Blickle cinema by the entrance on the right)
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Special offers for people with disabilities

      Tactile tours on the architecture of 21er Haus and the sculptures of Fritz Wotrub for blind and visually impaired people.

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