Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (solo show)
Bayfront Gardens, The Ringling, Sarasota, FL
9 June 2017 - 1 June 2018
The Ringling is pleased to announce the presentation of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s 12 monumental bronze sculptures, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. A sculptor, photographer, installation artist, architect, and social activist, Ai is one of the most renowned artists working today.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads was inspired by the fabled fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an 18th-century imperial retreat just outside Beijing. Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits at the behest of the Manchu Emperor Qianlong, the fountain-clock featured the animals of the Chinese zodiac, each spouting water at two hour intervals. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged.
Seven out of the 12 animal heads in Ai’s piece are based on the original fountain works that have been discovered—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, horse, monkey, and boar. The remaining five are the artist’s reimagining of the currently missing artifacts—dragon, snake, goat, rooster, and dog. The dual title of the work addresses the artist’s desire that the piece be relatable on many different levels and to people who may not know the original sculpture’s history.
In re-interpreting these objects on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on questions of looting and repatriation, while extending his ongoing exploration of the 'fake' and the copy in relation to the original. He states that each piece is “a copy of an original, but not an exact copy—something that has its own sensitive layer of languages, which are different, and that bears the mark of our time.”
The 12 bronze Zodiac Heads stand on bronze columns. Each animal head measures approximately 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. The animal heads on their columns reach between 9.8 and 12 feet high, with each one weighing approximately 800 lbs. This group of works, (including a smaller copy in gold) has been exhibited worldwide since the official launch of the Zodiac Heads in 2011, making it one of the most viewed sculpture projects in the history of contemporary art.
The Ringling, Sarasota
Reenacting history_ Collective Actions and Everyday Gestures (group show)
22 September 2017 - 21 January 2018
Reenacting History is an international exhibition that focuses on how the body and gestures can, as an artistic medium, reveal social, historical, and cultural contexts and interest from the 1960s to today. The body is a place in the front line, where “I” form a relationship with others, and a contact zone through which “I” encounter various situations in the world. At the same time, it is a “storehouse of memory,” where the past is inscribed, and a “social place,” where biopolitics function through power, capital, and knowledge. Since the 1960s, many artists who sought to bring the realm of life into art and integrate the two favored the body as an artistic medium, because the body is the fundamental existence of human life from the past to the present.
Representing thirty-eight artists and collectives from Korea and abroad, this exhibition is divided into three parts, based on gestural approaches to our life stories and on artistic attitudes. Part 1, titled “Performing Collective Memory and Culture,” illuminates works that recompose historical memory and cultural heritage through gestures. This section examines actions of Korean performance artists and Japanese avant-garde groups from the 1960 and 70s and how they used gestures to respond to and resist the particular socio-political conditions of the time. Part 2, titled “Everyday Gestures, Social Choreography,” takes the perspective of “social choreography” to cast light on works after the 1960s, which brought everyday gestures into the context of art to highlight issues of reality and life. Part 3, titled “Performing Community,” introduces works that use the body to reenact the social issues of our communities that arose amidst the rise of globalization after the late 1990s, as well as collective performances that involve intimate encounters of bodies and experiment with temporary communities based on collaboration and communication.
The gestures in Reenacting History record history that language failed to write down, history that cannot be summoned by language, and the history of trauma and absence that language cannot possibly bear. For this reason, “writing down history through gestures” could be an “alternative, resistant recording of history.”
Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World (group show)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
6 October 2017 – 7 January 2018
Art and China after 1989 presents work by 71 key artists and groups active across China and worldwide whose critical provocations aim to forge reality free from ideology, to establish the individual apart from the collective, and to define contemporary Chinese experience in universal terms. Bracketed by the end of the Cold War in 1989 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it surveys the culture of artistic experimentation during a time characterized by the onset of globalization and the rise of a newly powerful China on the world stage. The exhibition’s subtitle, Theater of the World, comes from an installation by the Xiamen-born, Paris-based artist Huang Yong Ping: a cage-like structure housing live reptiles and insects that coexist in a natural cycle of life, an apt spectacle of globalization’s symbiosis and raw contest.
For art and China, the year 1989 was both an end and a beginning. The June Fourth Tiananmen Incident signaled the end of a decade of relatively open political, intellectual, and artistic exploration. It also marked the start of reforms that would launch a new era of accelerated development, international connectedness, and individual possibility, albeit under authoritarian conditions. Artists were at once catalysts and skeptics of the massive changes unfolding around them. Using the critical stance and open-ended forms of international Conceptual art, they created performances, paintings, photography, installations, and video art, and initiated activist projects to engage directly with society. Their emergence during the 1990s and early 2000s coincided with the moment the Western art world began to look beyond its traditional centers, as the phenomenon of global contemporary art started to take shape. Chinese artists were crucial agents in this evolution.
Art and China after 1989 is organized in six chronological, thematic sections throughout the rotunda and on Tower Levels 5 and 7. For all the diversity the exhibition encompasses, the artists here have all sought to think beyond China’s political fray and simple East-West dogmas. This freedom of a “third space” has allowed for a vital distance, and a particular insight, as they contend with the legacies of Chinese history, international modernism, and global neoliberalism of the 1990s. Their rambunctious creativity can expand our ever-widening view of contemporary art and inspire new thinking at a moment when the questions they have faced—of identity, equality, ideology, and control—have pressing relevance.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
HUMAN FLOW (movie)
Public release in German cinemas
16 November 2017
Imagine this: When danger comes, you and your family jettison your lives in mid-sentence, leaving behind a bombed-out home and repression at your heels. You pour all your precious savings into a passage of weeks or months—over mountains, across deserts—to jump into a flimsy rubber raft, daring to defy the ocean’s perils, chasing an unwritten future. Or you wait in suspense, journey blocked, at a closed border, in an improvised camp, fighting to never allow the barbed wire to pierce your hope. Perhaps you escape catastrophe, only to deliver yourself to a city you’ve never even imagined, to new streets crackling with fears and furies that make no sense, and even still, you are driven by the most basic human optimism, to live your life no matter what it takes.
These are not fictional situations. These are the real human faces—each lined and luminous with stories of love and courage and the urgent battle for survival—of a planet on the move, a planet in the midst of a human emergency. Much has been said in the past few years by politicians and pundits about the millions of refugees fleeing war, hunger and persecution. Yet, as debates rage about who and how many, security versus responsibility, putting up walls or building bridges, the vital truth of real people with real dreams and real needs caught in a labyrinth of uncertainty can get lost. The very word “refugee” can distance, can lull us into forgetting this major story of our times is not about statistics or abstract masses but about beating hearts, about lives-in-process, a stream of individual stories full of color, ecstasies and sorrows no different from our own.
That’s why artist Ai Weiwei foregrounds the humanity of refugees—their quest for the things we all want: safety, shelter, peace, the opportunity to be who you are—in his powerful new work of cinema: Human Flow. Ai, at once celebrated, persecuted and famed for an outlaw spirit that speaks directly to a world of inequality and injustice, here pushes back against the worldwide tide of fear with a defiant act of gentleness. His whole career has been about resisting borders of all kinds, about unifying art and activism.
And now, with Human Flow, he again stretches art’s definition to include trying to change the social fabric to which his work responds.
Fragile State (group show)
17 June 2017 - 7 January 2018
The PinchukArtCentre is proud to present “Fragile State” - a major international group exhibition with 10 leading artists including Marina Abramovic, Jan Fabre, Urs Fischer, Douglas Gordon, Damien Hirst, Carlos Motta, Oscar Murillo, Santiago Sierra, Barthelemy Toguo and Ai Weiwei.
A Fragile State often reveals a delicate moment of vulnerability and might be an accurate description of the world around us. The notion of Fragile State reflects upon the fragile state of the world order, or in a more abstract sense it refers to ideological, cultural and social vulnerabilities. But it is equally a notion that can be understood in a deeply personal sense, the fragility of body and mind.
This exhibition meanders systematically in between those different definitions of the Fragile State. It provokes conversations linking the fragility of our body and mind, and the fragility of ideologies and historical understandings. It draws parallels between the fragility of youth and that of a country at war conflict or the fragility of life and that of a State at risk.
The exhibition starts with a reflection on culture, civilization and history, embodied in Ai Weiwei’s LEGO version of Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (2016). The work is a recent translation of the early 1995 images where Ai Weiwei photographed himself dropping and breaking a 2000-year-old ceremonial Urn from the Han Dynasty (considered a golden Age in Chinese history). Responding to public outcry, he famously replied: ”General Mao used to tell us that we can only build a new world if we destroy the old one”.
Ai Weiwei. D'ailleurs c'est toujours les autres (solo show)
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne
22 September 2017 - 28 January 2018
Recent and monumental works: Ai Weiwei, one of the most significant and influential artists of the last decade, is back in Switzerland. After his very first European solo show at the Bern Kunsthalle in 2004, the Chinese artist has once again accepted an invitation from Bernard Fibicher, director of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (mcb-a).
The exhibition in Lausanne is bringing together more than 40 items dating from 1995 up to the present: works in porcelain, wood, marble, jade, glass, bamboo, and silk, together with wallpaper, photographs and videos, all testifying to the rich variety of the artist's work and his profound knowledge of his country's cultural heritage. At the same time – and here we detect a spirit akin to that of Marcel Duchamp – in a playful or iconoclastic way he rechannels his traditional motifs, methods and materials into a critique, overt or covert, of the Chinese political system. His most recent works bear on the troubling complexity of international matters including economic dependency and refugee flows. This mcb-a event hails a true all-rounder: a remarkable visual artist, an encyclopedic mind, a gifted transmitter of ideas and a man coming to grips with the major issues of today's world. Ai Weiwei may well be the first truly "global" artist.
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne
On Porcelain (solo show)
Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul
12 September 2017 - 28 January 2018
With the support of Akbank, Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum will host Ai Weiwei’s first exhibition in Turkey, between the dates 12 September 2017 and 28 January 2018. The exhibition will showcase an extensive selection from the artist’s oeuvre alongside new works. Focusing on Ai Weiwei’s wide-ranging production in the medium of porcelain, the exhibition will present a narrative informed by the artist’s life story and his approach to both the tradition of craftsmanship and art history.
Within the scope of the exhibition, each stage of Ai Weiwei’s prolific journey in porcelain will be presented with his iconic works. Transferring his contemporary message through the language of traditional Chinese craft, Ai Weiwei’s art practice provides the viewer with a perspective on the paradoxes of our time.
The exhibition offers a comprehensive view of Ai Weiwei’s art practice through a structure built through recurrent themes in his works. Dealing with the concepts of authenticity, the transformation of the value systems throughout different eras and cultural history, Ai Weiwei’s works call the viewers’ understanding of cultural, artistic and historical values into question.
Through his interrogation of the concept of authenticity in the replicas he produces, Ai Weiwei’s works undermine the difference between the copy and the original. Accordingly, he adapts the logic of the Chinese and Greek pottery decoration and Egyptian wall painting to reflect on history and provide us with a comprehensive view of the contemporary world. With its wide-range and extensive selection of works in the medium of porcelain—the earliest work dates back four decades and the exhibition contains over 100 art works—this exhibition at the Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum stands out as one of the most unique explorations into this singular artist’s practice.
Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul
Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11 (group show)
Imperial War Museum, London
26 October 2017 - 28 May 2018
See the UK’s first major exhibition of artists’ responses to war and conflict since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11 will feature more than 40 British and international artists, including Ai Weiwei, Grayson Perry, Gerhard Richter, Jenny Holzer, Mona Hatoum, Alfredo Jaar, Coco Fusco and Jake & Dinos Chapman.
The complex issues surrounding the global response to 9/11, the nature of modern warfare and the continuing state of emergency in which we find ourselves have become compelling subject matter for contemporary artists.
Artists’ unique ways of communicating through their art provide different levels of understanding. The stories they tell, whether first or second-hand, come from alternative viewpoints not always reflected in the mainstream media, often challenge our perceptions.
Through 50 works of art including film, sculpture, painting, installations, photography and prints, many of which will be exhibited publicly in the UK for the first time, this exhibition highlights the crucial role of artists in representing contemporary conflict.
The exhibition will be presented through four key themes: artists’ direct or immediate responses to the events of 9/11; issues of state surveillance and security; our complex relationship with firearms, bombs and drones and the destruction caused by conflict on landscape, architecture and people.
Imperial War Museum, London
Extra Bodies – The Use of the «Other Body» in Contemporary Art (group show)
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich
18 November 2017 - 4 February 2018
The exhibition sheds light on a phenomenon in art that first rises to prominence in the 1990s and then explodes in the early years of the new millennium: the artistic practice of resorting to and deploying ‘extra bodies.’ Artists select these ‘other bodies’ because of their specific social or biosocial role—which is why they may also be characterized as extras. All works on view share a basic ‘performative’ or ‘theatrical’ quality. Strikingly, the viewer is neither drawn into the action nor invited to participate. Unlike many artistic productions discussed under the rubric of relational aesthetics, these pieces do not demand his active engagement. Taking up both exhibition floors at the museum, the extensive group exhibition featuring numerous works from the collection scrutinizes the various modes in which extras with their social and biosocial roles are presented, and function, in art.
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich
Trace at Hirshhorn (solo show)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
28 June 2017 - 1 January 2018
One of China’s most provocative living artists, Ai Weiwei (b. Beijing, 1957) has spent nearly four decades exploring the relationships between art, society, and individual experience. His work, as prolific as it is eclectic, encompasses a wide range of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, film, painting, and architecture. Ai Weiwei began seeking to incite change through his art in the late 1970s, and as his work has developed, he has become increasingly committed to his guiding principle of promoting human rights and freedom of expression for all.
Ai Weiwei’s monumental installation Trace portrays individuals from around the world whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech. Each of these 176 portraits comprises thousands of plastic LEGO® bricks, assembled by hand and laid out on the floor. The work foregrounds Ai Weiwei’s own experiences of incarceration, interrogation, and surveillance. In 2011, he was detained by the Chinese government for eighty-one days and then prohibited from traveling abroad until 2015. In 2012, the Hirshhorn opened Ai’s first major US retrospective, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which he was unable to attend.
Originally commissioned in 2014, Trace first opened as part of @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a site-specific takeover of the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco, a collaboration between the nonprofit FOR-SITE Foundation, the National Park Service and the Golden Gate Park Conservancy.
Like Ai Weiwei, the individuals represented in Trace have been detained, exiled, or have sought political asylum because of their actions, beliefs, or affiliations. The subjects were chosen by Ai Weiwei and reflect his response to information provided by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, as well as his own independent research.
As part of this installation, Ai Weiwei has created a new 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the pattern looks merely decorative, but a closer inspection reveals surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos, which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority. Together, the massive works span nearly 700 feet around the Hirshhorn’s third floor Outer Ring galleries.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Ai Weiwei (solo show)
Various locations, The Contemporary Austin, Austin
3 June 2017 - ongoing
The Contemporary Austin and Waller Creek Conservancy announce an upcoming two-part outdoor exhibition of large-scale installations by Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, to go on view to the public beginning June 3, 2017, as part of The Contemporary Austin’s partnership with Waller Creek Conservancy and its Museum Without Walls program. The project is made possible by the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation and represents the second collaboration between The Contemporary Austin and Waller Creek Conservancy.
The works include the striking installation Forever Bicycles, 2014, installed by The Contemporary Austin at the Waller Delta (74 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas), and Iron Tree Trunk, 2015, on view at The Contemporary Austin’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria (3809 West 35th Street, Austin, Texas). The public opening for both works by Ai Weiwei will be celebrated with free family-friendly art activities and refreshments on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to noon at the sculpture Forever Bicycles at the Waller Delta. Both works will remain on view as long-term loans.
The Contemporary Austin, Austin
Glasstress 2017 (group show)
Palazzo Franchetti San Marco, Fondazione Berengo, Venice
11 May - 26 November 2017
Glasstress is a project by Adriano Berengo to further his mission of marrying contemporary art and glass. Artists of all disciplines from sculptors to musicians have been invited to collaborate with the maestros in creating art in glass. Since 2009, these works have been exhibited in the historic Palazzo Franchetti, home of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti. Glasstress has always been accredited as an official collateral event of the Venice Biennale of Art. Glasstress, a showcase of this collaboration of craft and creativity, has forged a new trajectory for glass and a new path for contemporary artists.
Fondazione Berengo, Venice
Amsterdam Light Festival (group show)
30 November 2017 - 21 January 2018
Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival in the city center of Amsterdam. Light art is a relatively young art form that experiences a great growth because of the LED revolution. Light is a versatile and highly visual ‘material’ that can be used both abstract and figurative. Both forms are reflected in the artworks of the festival.
Amsterdam Light Festival, Amsterdam
21st Biennale of Sydney (group show)
Various locations, Sydney
16 March - 11 June 2018
“The curatorial premise of the 21st Biennale of Sydney is an exhibition that will explore multiple viewpoints in search of a state of equilibrium. With a holistic view, the Biennale will also seek in-depth engagement with individuals and communities while exploring a range of perspectives and meanings of abstractions.
“The exhibition will be a journey; a walk through microcosms of the world today based on the stratum of history, human knowledge, emotions, desires and beliefs, as well as the mysteries of natural phenomena and the whole of the universe.”
21st Biennale of Sydney
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (solo show)
Public Art Fund, Various locations, New York
12 October 2017 - 11 February 2018
This October, as a highlight of its 40th anniversary in 2017, Public Art Fund presents Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, a timely new exhibition across multiple boroughs by world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei. Inspired by the international migration crisis and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide, the artist has conceived of this ambitious, multi-site project as a way of transforming the metal wire security fence into a powerful artistic symbol. By installing fences in varying, site-specific forms at locations across the city – including sites like the New York City Economic Development Corporation-managed Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Astor Place, JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation, Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens both in partnership with NYC Parks, and numerous others throughout the city – Ai will create striking installations that draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division. In this way, he will explore one of society’s most urgent issues, namely the psychic and physical barriers that divide us, which is at the heart of debates about immigration and refugees today.
Public Art Fund, New York
Law of the Journey (solo show)
National Gallery Prague, Prague
17 March 2017 - 7 January 2018
The exhibition Law of the Journey is Ai Weiwei’s multi-layered, epic statement on the human condition: an artist’s expression of empathy and moral concern in the face of continuous, uncontrolled destruction and carnage. Hosted in a building of symbolic historical charge – a former 1928 Trade Fair Palace which in 1939–1941 served as an assembly point for Jews before their deportation to the concentration camp in Terezín – it works as a site-specific parable, a form of (public) speech, carrying a transgressive power of cathartic experience, but also a rhetoric of failure, paradox and resignation. Like Noah’s Ark, a monumental rubber boat is a contemporary vessel of forced exodus, floating hopelessly within the immense, oceanic abyss of the Gallery’s post-industrial, cathedral-like Big Hall. Set for a journey across the unknown and the infinite, an overcrowded life raft carries ‘the vanguard of their people’, as Hannah Arendt described the illegal and the stateless in her seminal 1943 essay, We Refugees: over 300 figures, squeezed within the confines of a temporary shelter, undertake a journey ‘far out into the unnavigated’, fleeing violence and danger.