The Royal Academy of Arts and Ai Weiwei have mounted a Kickstarter campaign to enable a huge, site-specific work in the outdoor courtyard in front of the gallery. Eight enormous trees created by Ai Weiwei – each around seven metres tall, clustered around a marble couch – will create an environment in the centre of London for the public to explore. Ai Weiwei began his Tree series in 2009, and the RA’s eight-part work will be the largest to date. Ai purchases parts of dead trees, collected on the mountains of southern China, and brings them to his studio in Beijing where skilled carpenters assemble them into ‘complete’ trees. These impressive artificial constructions have been interpreted as a commentary on the Chinese nation, in which geographically and culturally diverse peoples have been brought together to form ‘One China’.
The RA now wants to bring a significant sculpture by visionary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to the RA Courtyard in the heart of London from September to December 2015. Be a part of a unique opportunity to support the work of Ai Weiwei and collaborate with Britain’s greatest independent artist-run organisation. Join the global conversation about art and activism; transcend national boundaries as people all over the world help us make this happen.
“We need to raise £100,000 to enable us to bring this magnificent work to the Annenberg Courtyard, where it can be enjoyed by all visitors for free. We want you to be a part of a collaborative approach to making this happen, and a unique opportunity to build a connection to the work of Ai Weiwei and the Royal Academy of Arts. We will involve you in the story every step of the way, and acknowledge your generous support in the prestigious RA galleries. Ai Weiwei’s work transcends global boundaries and so will this project: even if you are not able to visit the work in London we will connect you with the exhibition virtually”; they stated on the Kickstarter website.
This free outdoor installation will be on display simultaneously with an exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s work in the RA’s Main Galleries. From September to December 2015 the RA is bringing the first major institutional survey of Ai’s work to Britain, celebrating over two decades of his extraordinary career. The exhibition has been curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, as he is not permitted to leave China, proving that geographical boundaries do not necessarily have to limit something of such huge artistic importance. The RA will present some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to the present day, as well as new works created specifically for our galleries.
Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential artists and a major cultural phenomenon. His work is brave, provocative and visionary, and gives voice not only to his own beliefs, but also those who have no voice. Particularly powerful are his pieces which address the Chinese government’s response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Ai became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation at Tate Modern in 2010, while globally is renowned for his activism, and works which embody political statements about creative freedom, censorship and human rights. He often re-appropriates objects to give them new cultural meaning, such as painting precious 2000-year-old vases to resemble cheap, modern-day containers, examining notions of cultural heritage, authenticity and the value of art.