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
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, Rineke Dijkstra et al.
When Home Won't Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art (group show)
Cantor Arts Center, Stanford
5 February – 31 May 2021
In the spring of 2021, the Cantor will open a group exhibition on the subject of contemporary migration, immigration, and the displacement of peoples. Drawing inspiration from British-Somali poet Warsan Shire’s “Home,” When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art examines how the forces of migration touch us all, radically destabilizing ideas of home, place, transit, and belonging in the 21st century.
Cantor Arts Center, Stanford
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
Ai Weiwei et al.
There is Another Way of Looking at Things (group show)
SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen, Sindelfingen
5 September 2020 – 24 May 2021
“THERE IS ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS” – this sentence is both our exhibition’s title and motto and reminds us that we have the possibility to view things differently. The quote is taken from Maurizio Nannucci’s eponymous neon work from 2012. Its text has lost none of its topicality. On the contrary, it is more current than ever.
The exhibition features ten works from the Schaufler Collection which can be reviewed under the impression of the present change of times. Included are works by Ai Weiwei, Tony Cragg, Jeppe Hein, Lori Hersberger, Lee Bul, Maurizio Nannucci, Giulio Paolini, Mario Schifano, and Erwin Wurm. These artworks shed light on what contemporary art is doing not only in times of crisis: It questions the values of our time and takes a stance.
Ai Weiwei, Toby Ziegler et al.
Sculpture & Nature (group show)
Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park, Schwante
30 April – 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 sculpture park will open to the public on June, 19th 2020 with its inaugural exhibition Sculpture & Nature, showing works of leading international artists including Jean Arp, Dan Graham, Björn Dahlem, Maria Loboda, Gregor Hildebrandt or Hicham Berrada. Featuring new commissions from Carsten Nicolai and Maria Loboda, the exhibition explores relationships between art and nature.
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