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Ai Weiwei, Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Struth et al.

Stage of Being (group show)
Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar
9 December 2017 - 13 May 2018

Who are we? Where do we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going?

We live in a world of progress: we know more and are capable of more, we live longer than ever before; maybe one day we will even achieve immortality. At the same time, we humans struggle with feelings of emptiness, loneliness and fear. Once, religion and ideology provided guidance and assuaged our doubts. Nowadays, we rely on self-help books, doctors, philosophers and coaches – but above all, on ourselves.

Artists in particular dare to face down the fundamental questions of existence. In fact: the very essence of art might be found in diffusing that existential, human fear. Art can hold up a mirror to mankind. This mirror is sometimes quite direct, raw and confrontational. And sometimes indirect, enshrouded in layers of meaning.

Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar


Additional:

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



Thomas Struth

Ways of Seeing (group show)
NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi
3 September - 17 November 2018

Ways of Seeing brings together 26 internationally-acclaimed artists and art collectives from the region and the world, working in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, sound, film, and installation. This exhibition is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, founders of the multi-disciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented, and co-chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation.

The exhibition is based on John Berger’s seminal 1972 text on visual culture, Ways of Seeing, in which he shifted the emphasis of art criticism away from the professional art-expert and relocated it within the grasp of the layperson. In taking its cue from Berger’s groundbreaking argument, this exhibition invites the viewer to actively engage with the artwork, and to explore the ways by which artists assign forms and concepts that seem familiar with renewed appearances and meanings.

NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi


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


Thomas Struth

Nature Unleashed: The Image of Catastrophe since 1600 (group show)
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
29 June - 14 October 2018

Thomas Struth, Louvre 4, Paris 1989, 1989 © Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth, Louvre 4, Paris 1989, 1989 © Thomas Struth

In a large-scale exhibition spanning several epochs, the Hamburger Kunsthalle traces based on important works how artists working in different media picture natural catastrophes while also shedding light on humanity’s failure to come to terms with nature due, among other things, of our faith in technology. Nature Unleashed: The Image of Catastrophe since 1600 features approximately 120 exhibits, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, films and videos. As viewers make their way past blazing fires, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and sinking ships, they will take note of pictorial constants in the expression of such disasters but will also become aware of the differences in depiction from one era to the next. The show’s special appeal lies in the close juxtaposition of artworks created centuries apart. The trajectory of exhibited works spans an arc from the years around 1600 to the present day. Contemporary works serve to anchor the theme in the here and now and underline its topicality.

Catastrophes are omnipresent. The media constantly reports on natural disasters, acts of war, political upheavals and other crisis scenarios, characterising them all with the common term “catastrophe”. Catastrophes don’t just happen, they are made. It is only in our perception, in our active engagement with such drastic events that they take on distinctive contours and reveal their typical face. Every age makes its own catastrophes and redefines the criteria by which certain events are labelled as such. These fundamental observations form the basis for the exhibition project.

Hamburger Kunsthalle, 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


Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra (solo show)
De Pont Museum, Tilburg
10 March - 22 July 2018

Rineke Dijkstra, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, June 19, 2005, 2005 © Rineke Dijkstra
Rineke Dijkstra, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, June 19, 2005, 2005 © Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra (Sittart 1959) became internationally known with her "Beach Portraits" during the 1990s. With this moving series of photographs, she established her reputation as a maker of portraits that express the identity, vulnerability and dignity of the subjects. Last year she was granted the Hasselblad Award, a prestigious photography prize.

Dijkstra prefers to work in series, which allow the differences and similarities among the portrait subjects and their cultural backgrounds to emerge in a subtle manner. The time-consuming process of working with a technical camera determines her approach. She creates the conditions and plays with the light, which appears to be natural and yet has a slightly different appearance. She chooses her figures carefully, but chance plays a significant role as well. The sharply focused photographs give the viewer a sense of being face to face with the portrait subjects. At the same time, the serial character of the work also makes the subjects lose a certain degree of individuality. As a viewer, one mainly identifies with the universal human feelings (e.g. shyness, a lack of ease) displayed by them.
The theme of transformation keeps on surfacing in various series, such as the one in which a friendly-looking French boy evolves, in just a few years, into a stalwart soldier. But is this real, or is he playing a role?

Such questions interest Dijkstra. Despite the faithfully rendered appearance of the photograph, the portrait subject ultimately remains unfathomable and elusive. Who is hiding behind a mask, and who is showing his or her true face? This dilemma is subtly conveyed in the video of Marianna, a ten-year-old Russian ballerina who practices her dance steps in a pink studio. The cloyingly sweet surroundings and the spirited music stand in stark contrast to the stern voice of a teacher who is giving instructions off screen. With each new attempt to execute the steps perfectly, Marianna smiles as she has been conditioned to do, but gradually a certain fatigue and defiance nonetheless begin to emerge.

De Pont Museum, Tilburg


Thomas Struth

Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture (group show)
Frist Art Museum, Nashville
20 July - 28 October 2018

Thomas Struth, Pergamon Museum I, Berlin, 2001 © Thomas Struth
Thomas Struth, Pergamon Museum I, Berlin, 2001 © Thomas Struth

Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture explores the changing relationship between viewer, photographer, and architect, from the 1930s to the present. Demonstrating how photographers connect a building’s identity with the people who reside in, work in, visit, or simply look at it, the exhibition also reveals how this understanding may be layered, reinforced, or in some instances radically reinterpreted.

Buildings and the way they are photographed are visible symbols of a society’s desires and the social, economic, and aesthetic concerns of an era. Photographers choose between black-and-white and color, sharp contrast and soft focus, and straightforward and dramatic framing to record their subjects. Contemporary photographers add the use of new digital technologies, allowing for an even greater manipulation of an image. Whatever the medium, the intent is to involve the viewer in understanding the symbolism of architecture and public spaces. By combining different contexts and frames of meaning, Image Building invites viewers to actively experience structures and spaces in novel and expanded ways.

Many architects hope that their conceptual intentions will last as long as the actual structures. Creating a perception—a mental or actual image of a structure—has become a vital element to architectural practice, shaping architects’ ideas about how buildings will look in addition to how they are experienced. But the messages contained in architecture are filtered and even altered by the lenses of a changing society. This exhibition presents fascinating photographic conversations between architect and artist, past and present, and facts, dreams, and illusions.

Frist Art Museum, Nashville


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


Rineke Dijkstra

Collection Centre Pompidou (group show)
Centre Pompidou, Malaga, from 28 March 2015 - ongoing

Rineke Dijkstra, I See a Woman Crying ( Weeping Woman ), 2009
Rineke Dijkstra, I See a Woman Crying ( Weeping Woman ), 2009

The world famous gallery Centre Pompidou is coming to Malaga. Without doubt the Pompidou art center in Paris is one of the greatest homes of twentieth century art. In line with the arresting appearance of the Pompidou in Paris the Malaga collection will be housed in the large glass cube, built with a cultural purpose in mind and which is situated at the corner which joins Muelle Uno and Muelle Dos of Malaga’s newly renovated port. The new Malaga Pop-Up museum will house a fine selection of its French mother. The museum that is at time of writing under full construction is expected to open on March 28th, just before the touristic season takes off.


Centre Pompidou, Malaga