Coronation (2020) (film)
“Coronation” (2020) is a documentary film about the lockdown in Wuhan, China, during the Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020.
On December 31, 2019, the first novel coronavirus case was confirmed in Wuhan. Chinese officials repeatedly denied that human-to-human transmission was possible, concealed the number of diagnosed patients, and punished medical staff for disclosing information about the epidemic. On January 23, 2019, Wuhan was placed under a city-wide lockdown. Covid-19 has become a global pandemic, with over 17 million people infected and over 670,000 deaths.
“Coronation” examines the political specter of Chinese state control from the first to the last day of the Wuhan lockdown. The film records the state’s brutally efficient, militarized response to control the virus. Sprawling emergency field hospitals were erected in a matter of days, 40,000 medical workers were bused in from all over China, and the city’s residents were sealed into their homes.
The film takes us into the heart of these temporary hospitals and ICU wards, showing the entire process of diagnosis and treatment. Patients and their families are interviewed, reflecting their thinking about the pandemic and expressing anger and confusion over the states’ callous restriction of their liberties. The film also takes us into the private lives of individuals living under the lockdown: a couple attempt to return to their home in Wuhan, a courier delivers essentials to residents barred from leaving their community, an emergency construction worker stuck in limbo and forced to live out of his car, a former party cadre and her son debate the function of the media and the party’s response to the outbreak, a grieving son navigates the bureaucracy of retrieving his father's ashes.
China has assumed the status of superpower on the global stage, yet it remains poorly understood by other nations. Through the lens of the pandemic, “Coronation” clearly depicts the Chinese crisis management and social control machine—through surveillance, ideological brainwashing, and brute determination to control every aspect of society. The film shows the changes that took place in a city and in individual space under the impact of the virus; it illustrates the value of individual life in the political environment, reflecting on the difficulties we face as individuals and countries in the context of globalization. Ultimately, the result is a society lacking trust, transparency, and respect for humanity. Despite the impressive scale and speed of the Wuhan lockdown, we face a more existential question: can civilization survive without humanity? Can nations rely on one another without transparency or trust?
Ai Weiwei directed, produced, and completed post-production remotely in Europe. The filming was done by ordinary citizens living in Wuhan.
Ai Weiwei Films
Rapture (solo show)
Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon
4 June – 28 November 2021
Ai Weiwei, the contemporary artist and Chinese activist, comes to Portugal for the first time with an unprecedented exhibition: Rapture, to be held at Cordoaria Nacional.
Elected the most popular artist in the world in 2020 by The Art Newspaper, Ai Weiwei is recognized worldwide for his strong political engagement and for connecting art to social and human rights issues.
Curated by the Brazilian Marcello Dantas, the exhibition will present some of the artist's most iconic works, as well as original works produced in Portugal that explore revisited traditional techniques.
Ai Weiwei, Toby Ziegler et al.
Sculpture & Nature (group show)
Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park, Schwante
4 June – 31 October 2021
The Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park provides a rare environment to explore sculpture in Northern and Eastern Germany, located only 25 km outside of Berlin and 45 minutes from Berlin-Mitte.
The exhibition Sculpture & Nature places works in conversation with their surroundings; 25 sculptures inhabit an expanse of rural greenery, offering a holistic outdoor art experience in which art and sculpture can merge. Works by Ai Weiwei and Toby Ziegler are included.
Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park
1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. A Memoir (publication)
In his widely anticipated memoir, Ai Weiwei tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father, Ai Qing, the nation’s most celebrated poet. At once ambitious and intimate, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.
Pre-Order it here.
Ai Weiwei, Günther Förg, Albert Oehlen et al.
Helga de Alvear Collection (group show)
Helga de Alvear Foundation Visual Arts Center, Cáceres
26 February – 31 December 2021
The exhibition showcases nearly 150 works from the Helga de Alvear Collection, including paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures and installations by over 100 artists across generations.
Encompassing approximately 3000 square meters of exhibition space, distributed over four levels, this exhibition manifests the museum's purpose of facilitating a plurality of art experiences.
Helga de Alvear Foundation
Trace (solo show)
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles
15 May – 1 August 2021
A moving depiction of courage in the face of authoritarianism, Ai Weiwei: Trace illuminates the power of resistance.
Created in 2014, when the famed contemporary artist was under house arrest, the monumental display portrays activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech from around the world. On view at the Skirball are eighty-three of the work’s original 176 portraits, each one hand-assembled from thousands of LEGO® bricks. To Ai, the portraits pay tribute to “heroes of our time,” many of them ordinary citizens who have stood up against injustice in their communities.
Complementing the portraits is a striking wallpaper designed by Ai Weiwei entitled The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the pattern looks merely decorative, but upon further inspection, you’ll discover hidden iconography like handcuffs and surveillance cameras. Look closely to find the alpacas—a mascot for freedom of expression in Chinese internet culture.
Skirball Cultural Center
Ai Weiwei, Jeff Elrod, Joan Mitchell, Thomas Struth et al.
Inaugural Installations: Kinder Building (group show)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
21 November 2020 – 31 December 2021
The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is dedicated to the Museum’s international collections of modern and contemporary art. The soaring spaces feature displays that span media encompassing painting and sculpture, craft and design, video, and immersive installations. It will open with the first comprehensive installation of these works, drawn from the collections of Latin American and Latino art; photography; prints and drawings; decorative arts, craft, and design; and modern and contemporary art.
These first installations in the Kinder Building are accompanied by eight major site-specific commissioned works that will be inaugurated at the time of the opening. Commissioned artists are El Anatsui, Byung Hoon Choi, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Ólafur Elíasson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Cristina Iglesias, Jason Salavon, and Ai Weiwei.
Museum of Fine Arts