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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

Installation view: Ai Weiwei, Decending Light, 2007, Helga de Alvear Foundation Visual Arts Center, Cáceres, 2021, photo credit: Joaquin Cortés / Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear
Installation view: Ai Weiwei, Decending Light, 2007, Helga de Alvear Foundation Visual Arts Center, Cáceres, 2021, photo credit: Joaquin Cortés / Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

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


Additional:

Ai Weiwei

A brush with... Ai Weiwei (podcast)

Ai weiwei, courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio
Ai weiwei, courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

In the final episode from the eighth series of the podcast "A brush with...", Ai Weiwei talks to The Art Newspaper about his cultural experiences and greatest influences, from Marcel Duchamp to ancient Chinese ceramics – and why Romanticism is not for him.

Listen to the podcast here.

The Art Newspaper


Ai Weiwei

The Liberty of Doubt (solo show)
Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
12 February – 19 June 2022

Image: Ai Weiwei, Dragon Vase, 2017, © Ai Weiwei, photo: Charles Duprat
Image: Ai Weiwei, Dragon Vase, 2017, © Ai Weiwei, photo: Charles Duprat

Kettle’s Yard is pleased to announce a new solo exhibition by internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) in which new and existing work will be shown alongside historic Chinese objects. The exhibition will explore notions of truth, authenticity and value, as well as globalisation, the coronavirus pandemic and the current geopolitical crisis. Ai Weiwei will reflect upon the liberty in the West, in contrast to China and other authoritarian regimes, to question truth and authority, express doubt and seek transparency in political matters. However, in relation to art appreciation, the Chinese have a long tradition of a more fluid and less fixed view in relation to authenticity than is the case in the West, often valuing the act of copying.

The exhibition in the galleries is a single installation with 13 artworks by Ai Weiwei exhibited alongside 14 antiquities which the artist bought at an auction in Cambridge in 2020. This will be the first time the artist has juxtaposed historic Chinese objects with his own works. Some of the auction pieces acquired by the artist are thought to date from the Northern Wei (386 – 534 CE) and Tang (618 – 907 CE) dynasties, while others have been identified as counterfeits, later copies of original works. A number of recent films made by the artist will also be screened on each day of the exhibition’s run – Coronation (2020), Cockroach (2020) and Human Flow (2017) – while two Fairytale Chairs (2007) will be placed in the Kettle’s Yard House for visitors to use.

Kettle’s Yard


Albert Oehlen

The Painter, a film by Albert Oehlen, Oliver Hirschbiegel and Ben Becker

© 2020 by Albert Oehlen, Oliver Hirschbiegel and Ben Becker
© 2020 by Albert Oehlen, Oliver Hirschbiegel and Ben Becker

Under the direction of Oliver Hirschbiegel, actor Ben Becker on screen impersonates the contemporary painter Albert Oehlen and re-creates a painting that Oehlen himself and in parallel is creating step by step in the background, with the actor improvising the process in front of the camera. The finished on-screen painting is an original “Oehlen” on which the artist himself never laid hands. The off screen blueprint painting was destroyed after principal shooting had finished.

Originally planned to be a performative statement the projects developed into a fully fledged feature film of 92 minutes, crossing formal boundaries and questioning the meaning of the creative process and the struggle for authenticity on various levels.

The Painter follows the artist / actor as he is struggling and suffering along this process with us watching in joyful despair and what might happen next until the white canvas has turned into a finished painting.

The outcome is a one-man rollercoaster that appears to be a documentary but in fact is a staged and guided improvisation with the “real” process happening behind the camera. The Painter is a constant flow of the artist’s journey with elements of farce and comedy topped with emotional moments of truth...in front of and behind the camera and leaving it up to us to decide what is real and/or authentic.

Watch the trailer here.


Picture Tree International


Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen x Sven-Åke Johansson: Rhythm Ace & Slingerland

Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin is pleased to announce Rhythm Ace & Slingerland, which was recorded during a concert conceived by Albert Oehlen with percussionist Sven-Åke Johansson at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in May 2019.

This new album, a co-production by NI VU NI CONNU and Galerie Max Hetzler, with liner notes by Max Dax is one of numerous collaborations between longstanding friends Oehlen and Johansson, following from their 2003 album Shotgun Wedding, also featuring Mayo Thompson of Red Krayola. This album explores how art infuences music and vice versa – a question often explored in Oehlen’s work.

The idea originated from Johansson’s visit to the artist’s studio in 2018. Oehlen showed the drummer his collection of rhythm machines, American and Japanese, from the 1960s onwards. Oehlen explains “I collect old drum machines because I fnd the contradiction fascinating that you collect devices that can do as little as possible. A drum machine is more attractive to me the more limited it is.”

Johansson responds to Oehlen’s musings and collection by creating the performance for Rhythm Ace & Slingerland. Johansson says of the performance “the situation was an extension of my being and also that of this device. It is a win for both: man and machine. So the experiment was successful.”

This record is available on our publications website.


Ai Weiwei

In Search of Humanity (solo show)
Albertina Modern, Vienna
16 March – 4 September 2022

Image: Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, courtesy of the artist, private collection
Image: Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, courtesy of the artist, private collection

The Albertina Modern presents the first comprehensive museum exhibition in Vienna dedicated to Ai Weiwei, an outstanding artistic voice of our time, a ceaseless activist, a proud critic of authoritarian systems and a truthful poet. In Search of Humanity extensively examines the aspect of humanity and artistic responsibility within Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre.

The exhibition highlights concepts such as: surveillance, censorship, human rights, freedom of expression, human displacement, radical responsibility, the power of beauty and the truth of poetry. Guided through these lines of thought the exhibition offers new tools to understand the relevance of Ai Weiwei’s artistic language, which comprises a wide array of art historical paradigms (such as the readymade) alongside more radical activist strategies, all of which are devoted to fathom the extremes of the contemporary human condition on a global scale. An impressive selection of works from the artist’s over three-decade career shall shed a light on Ai Weiwei as a preeminent figure within the contemporary art world.

A catalogue has been published to accompany this exhibition. Get your copy here.

Albertina Modern


Ai Weiwei

Intertwine. Pequi Tree, Roots, and Human Figures (solo show)
Serralves Museum, Porto
23 July 2021 – 9 July 2022

Image: Ai Weiwei,
Image: Ai Weiwei, "Mutuophagia", 2018, © Ai Weiwei Studio

At Serralves Ai Weiwei presents a body of work that reflects his interest in the environment and his concerns regarding the deforestation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Ai’s sculptures represent what remains of once green giants and are referents for the present consequences of the rapacious conversion of the natural environment. As we contemplate these roots, we understand the value of forests, the lungs of the world that provide the oxygen we need to breathe. To preserve these rapidly dwindling resources is a critical issue for the future of people on Earth. In the Serralves Park we will see for the first time Pequi Tree, a 32-meter-high iron tree that stands witness to the disappearance of the harmonious co-existence between human beings and nature; moulded in Brazil, cast in China, and now installed in the Park, this work went from wood to metal and from mortal to eternal as a piece of evidence and a monument.

Serralves Museum


Ai Weiwei

Defend the Future (solo show)
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (MMCA), Seoul
11 December 2021 – 17 April 2022

Image: Ai Weiwei, Coronation, 2020, film still, courtesy of Ai Weiwei studio
Image: Ai Weiwei, Coronation, 2020, film still, courtesy of Ai Weiwei studio

The retrospective of Ai Weiwei will introduce the artist's representative works that embody his ways of thought. Coronation (2020), a film that depicts the situation of Wuhan City following its shutdown in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Omni (2019), a film made with VR technology will also be screened. Moreover, a site-specific project that deals with the current issues of 2021 will also be unfolded, which will be a new large-scale work that will be developed by taking into consideration the features of Museum Madang. The exhibition aims to look back on the role and impact of art within the society through the artist who has been dealing with major issues of the contemporary society.

MMCA


Ai Weiwei

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.

Get your copy here.


Albert Oehlen

Collaboration with "Talk About Lebanon"

Image © Albert Oehlen
Image © Albert Oehlen

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to team up with "Talk About Lebanon" in the wake of the fatal explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020. The first in a series of collaborations is a T-shirt featuring a painting by Albert Oehlen from his iconic "Baumbilder" (Tree Paintings) series. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the NGO "Live Love Beirut" whose mission is to provide assistance to those who cannot afford to repair their homes after the explosion.

The T-shirt can be purchased at Talkaboutlebanon.co.uk

Talk about Lebanon


Ai Weiwei

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