Defend the Future (solo show)
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (MMCA), Seoul
11 December 2021 – 17 April 2022
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.
Ai Weiwei, Urs Fischer, Christopher Wool et al.
Artist Plate Project 2021
This year, the Coalition for the Homeless has partnered with 40 celebrated artists, including Ai Weiwei, Urs Fischer and Christopher Wool, to create limited-edition dinner plates that will be offered for sale to support services for people experiencing homelessness and instability. The purchase of one plate can feed up to 100 homeless and hungry individuals. Each artist-designed porcelain plate has been produced by the art editions company Prospect in editions of 250 and will be sold for $195 per plate.
The plates are available for sale at artwareeditions.com/collections/artist-plate-project.
Artist Plate Project
In Search of Humanity (solo show)
Albertina Modern, Vienna
16 March – 26 June 2022
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.
Intertwine. Pequi Tree, Roots, and Human Figures (solo show)
Serralves Museum, Porto
23 July 2021 – 9 July 2022
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.
Ai Weiwei et al.
Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation (group show)
Resnick Pavilion, LACMA, Los Angeles
4 July 2021 – 13 March 2022
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation. Featuring Ai Weiwei, Huang Yong Ping, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, and more, the exhibition brings together 20 works of Chinese contemporary art created by 15 artists in response to international trade, political conflict, and global artistic exchange. Drawn from Yuz Foundation’s esteemed collection of contemporary art, Legacies of Exchange spotlights encounters, exchanges, and collisions between China and the West. This exhibition is part of LACMA’s ongoing collaboration with Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China and Qatar Museums in Doha, a joint effort to create exhibitions and to provide the museums with greater access to a more diverse collection of artworks.
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.
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
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