In the last few years with the increasing controversy and debate surrounding human rights issues across the globe, conventional and digital art-loving media has turned its attention to one conceptual artist who ingeniously grabbed the world’s attention with his art, for all the right reasons.
Ai Weiwei is considered one of the world’s most famous international contemporary artists which is why I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have had the opportunity to see his latest work up close. Apart from being a conceptual artist and documentarian he is an activist whose use of social media has proven to be immensely rewarding when shedding light to critical issues concerning his homeland, China, or raising awareness to social and migration realities.
The exhibition is entittled translocation – transformation and it’s held in the 21er Haus .
“Every translocation is followed by a process of reorientation, which is paralleled by an inner migration and transformation of identity, in his nomadic experience…” explains the curator Alfred Weidinger.
What is unique about this exhibition is that it stretches itself across to the Upper Belvedere where 1,005 worn life jackets have been placed by the artist on the waters of the pond to form the calligraphic letter F . This work is based on Ai Weiwei’s intense engagement with the plight of the refugees. The life vests cast by the over imposed reflection of the Belvedere, draw attention to the uncertain future and fate of the refugees who wore them and certainly that message could not be loud enough. Surrounding the pond is an ensemble of 12 bronze heads from the Chinese zodiac.
Inside the 21er Haus, the main exhibition hall is overtaken by the installation Wang Family Ancestral Hall. This is a large 14-meter ancestral temple from the late Ming Dynasty consisting of 1,300 individual pieces and it is the first time it is presented outside China. The old temple belonged to a prominent tea merchant family called Wang but during China’s Cultural Revolution, the family was expelled and the temple was left to deteriorate. Ai Weiwei bought the building bought the building in order to transform it into its current conceptual form.
The other two of his works also refer to China’s tea culture, by creating the two tea houses made by pressed Pu-Erh-Tea and the sprouts which is an assembly of porcelain antique teapot spouts, spread like a carpet over the floor.
I highly recommend you take the curated tour. It does last approximately 2,5 hours which does sound a little tedious but trust me it is well worth your time. In order to truly understand the scope and concept behind the artistic genius of Ai Weiwei one must be guided to his work.
The exhibition runs until November 20th, 2016.
Tuesday 11.00 am to 06.00 pm
Wednesday 11.00 am to 09.00 pm
Thursday through Sunday 11.00 am to 06.00 pm