Ai Weiwei

HUMAN FLOW (movie)
Public release in German cinemas
16 November 2017

© 2017 Human Flow UG
© 2017 Human Flow UG

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.



Ai Weiwei

Life Cycle (solo show)
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
28 September 2018 - 3 March 2019

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds (detail), 2010 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds (detail), 2010 © Studio Ai Weiwei

Marciano Art Foundation is pleased to announce the next MAF Project in the Theater Gallery, a solo exhibition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, on view at the Foundation from September 28, 2018 — March 3, 2019. This exhibition is the artist’s first major institutional exhibition in Los Angeles and will feature the new and unseen work Life Cycle (2018) – a sculptural response to the global refugee crisis. The exhibition will also present iconic installations Sunflower Seeds (2010) and Spouts (2015) within the Foundation’s Theater Gallery.

On view for the first time in the Black Box, Life Cycle (2018) references the artist’s 2017 monumental sculpture Law of the Journey, Ai’s response to the global refugee crisis that used inflatable black PVC rubber in the shape of makeshift boats used to reach Europe. In this new iteration, Life Cycle depicts an inflatable boat through the traditional Chinese language of kite-making, exchanging the PVC rubber for bamboo. Ai first engaged with the traditional medium in 2014 in the installation With Wind created for the @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz exhibition in San Francisco, and this piece represents the artist’s further embrace of this ancient Chinese craft.

Suspended around the boat installation, the artist will exhibit a selection of figures crafted from bamboo and silk. In 2015, Ai Weiwei began creating a series of figures based on mythic creatures from the Shanhaijing, or Classic of Mountains and Seas. The Shanhaijing is a classic text made up of a compilation of mythic geography and myth, and versions of the text have existed since the 4th century B.C. The works are crafted in Weifang, a Chinese city in Shandong province with a tradition of kite-making dating back to the Ming dynasty.

Surrounding the parameters of the Black Box hangs Windows (2015) a reference to Chinese mythology, the tales and illustrations of the Shanhaiing, the history of 20th century art, and the life and works of the artist. The vignettes feature a dense mix of biographical, mythological, and art historical references to craft a contemporary story. Similar to chapters in a book, or acts in a play, the various scenes include the mythological creatures of the Shanhaijing alongside bamboo parallels of Ai’s own works, such as Template and Bang, and homages to Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns. A central theme running through the ten vignettes is freedom of speech and Ai’s efforts in defending it. Motifs recurring in Ai’s practice—the bicycle, the alpaca, symbols of state surveillance and control—are repeated and multiplied.

This multifaceted installation is evocative of Ai’s ongoing engagement with politics and social justice, and follows the release of his feature film Human Flow (2017) in which he depicts the refugee crisis on film. In the artist’s op-ed for the Guardian in February 2018, he writes, “I was a child refugee. I know how it feels to live in a camp, robbed of my humanity. Refugees must be seen as an essential part of our shared humanity.”

Placing Ai Weiwei at the forefront of the public contemporary art discussion, the installation Sunflower Seeds (2010), comprised of unique seeds made by 1600 artisans in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, will be presented in the Foundation’s Theater Gallery and will act to position Ai as one of the most recognizable artists of our time. This installation further expands upon reoccurring themes, such as authenticity, the individual’s role in society, geopolitics of cultural and economic exchange. The work also brings to mind the propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, depicting Mao Zedong as the sun and the citizens as sunflowers turning towards him.

Spouts (2015) is presented alongside Sunflower Seeds in the Theater Gallery, a piece comprised of thousands of antique teapot spouts dating back to the Song dynasty (960 – 1279). Following Ai’s practice of repetition and multiplication, the spouts may be seen as a metaphor for a mass of mouths, and a widespread yearning for freedom of speech and its continuing restriction throughout many societies. Spouts was previously exhibited in Galleria Continua in Beijing, the 21er Haus in Vienna, and the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul. The installation at the Marciano Foundation will be the first time the complete work is exhibited.

Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle will be accompanied by an illustrated publication, the third in MAF’s Project Series featuring an essay written by mythologist, writer, and professor Martin Shaw.

Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles

Ai Weiwei

LOOK! LISTEN! Art is in the churches (group show)
Hauptkirche St. Katharinen, Hamburg
27 May - 22 July 2018

Art and the church have a long mutual past. In many areas, the history of European art illustrates the Christian accounts of God and Man. We find it in the windows of church interiors, on the walls, the altars and on the pulpits.

However, in the modern era, art and the church often go separate ways.

In this Exhibition Series, contemporary art and the church communicate with each other: The artwork should be commentary and impulse as well as complement to that which is otherwise only to be seen in the individual church. Thereby, we are consciously creating a connection to the designated European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

LOOK – We capture the world in pictures. In the Exhibition Series (usually) new and old art meet in sacred rooms. The works desire to be seen in the context of the church and vice versa: both develop a new impact through the other. The harmony of art and sacred rooms invite a closer and more exact view of the Old and the New.

LISTEN – Whoever is addressed by a work of art, listens within. What is the effect of what I see within me? At the same time, we listen in the churches to what God can say to us. Thus, these churches become places of reflection and meditation – about oneself and art in the light of new and old “anchor points” of attentiveness. Allow yourself to be affected and beguiled into contemplation!

Kirche Hamburg

Ai Weiwei

Fan-Tan (solo show)
Mucem, Marseille
20 June – 12 November 2018

Ai Weiwei, 2017 © Judith Benhamou Huet, Mucem
Ai Weiwei, 2017 © Judith Benhamou Huet, Mucem

The Mucem is hosting Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, one of the major actors on the international art scene. The work of the photographer, architect, sculptor, performer, film-maker and social network activist combines Chinese thought with contemporary art, namely drawing his inspiration from Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. His creations are able to challenge our societies with such force through his transformation of everyday objects into works of art.

Ai Weiwei is the son of Ai Qing (1910-1996), the famous Chinese poet who discovered the West in 1929 on disembarking at Marseille, on the docks of La Joliette, precisely the spot where the Mucem is located today.
This connection motivated the artist to take us on a voyage through time and his art, which he links back to his paternal lineage. Through the new resonances that emerge in this exhibition, we are able to view Ai Weiwei’s work in a new light.

His creations, placed in parallel with the collections at the Mucem, invite us to question opposing notions such as East and West, original and copy, art and craft, destruction and conservation. But above all, the artwork of Ai Weiwei also challenges the relevance of our own interpretations.

Mucem, Marseille

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei (solo show)
Various locations, The Contemporary Austin, Austin
3 June 2017 - ongoing

Ai Weiwei, installation view, 2017. Courtesy the artist and the Contemporary Austin.
Ai Weiwei, installation view, 2017. Courtesy the artist and the Contemporary Austin.

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