Ai Weiwei Splits 400-Year-Old Ming Age Temple In Half

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has divided a 400-year-old temple’s 1,500 worn, wooden pieces between two Beijing Galleries. According to Galleria Continua – which is jointly presenting the exhibition with Tang Contemporary Art – the solo exhibition, which concludes on 6 December – is the first time the Chinese artist has created and staged “a solo exhibition in his home country, following the entire development of the project from conception to realisation in situ.”

The show represents a new “challenge” faced by the artist through what he defines as a “learning process”, an on-going project, which is at the same time a struggle and above all, the organisation of an actual organism.

Wang Jiaci (Wang family ancestral hall) was an ancestral temple of Ming age, dedicated to the cult of Wang Hua, an important prince who was reigning during the 6th century A.D., taken as reference by all future dynasties, from Tang to Qing. For hundreds of years, the ancestral temple was considered a sacred place, destined to host offerings and cult ceremonies for ancestors, as well as a place for holding important social activities or meetings and those concerning the Wang family.

Today Wang Jiaci is the hub of Ai Weiwei’s monumental project, an ancient building which was disassembled into more than 1500 pieces and meticulously re-built inside two exhibitive areas: Galleria Continua and Tang Contemporary Art Centre, crossing the wall that divides the two galleries.

Galleria Continua states that the exhibition conceived for the two galleries represents an ambitious process that exalts the complex nature of the artist and key points around which his art revolves: an obsequious respect for the Chinese tradition combined with the great ability to offer ancient themes in modern key, in addition to constant social and political awareness.

The exhibition ‘Ai Weiwei’ continues at Galleria Continua (# 8503, Dashanzi 798 Art Factory, 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Dst, Beijing, China) and Tang Contemporary Art (Gate No.2, 798 factory, Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Dst., Beijing, China) until 6 December.

About the artist:

Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957. He moved to New York City in 1981 and returned to Beijing in 1993, where he still lives and works. His works are exhibited all over the world, in monographic exhibitions, including Evidence at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz in San Francisco (2014), the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale de Venezia in the German Pavilion in Venice (2013), Ai Weiwei: According to What? at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. Interlacing at the Jeu de Paume in Paris (2012), Circle of Animals at Somerset House in London, Ai Weiwei: Absent at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taipei (2011), Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern in London (2010), and So Sorry at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing (2009), and Ai Weiwei at the Kunsthalle Bern in Bern (2004). Past group exhibitions include the 14th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale de Venezia at the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, Beyond and Between at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul (2014), Busan Biennale in Busan (2012), the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial in Sao Paolo, documenta 12 in Kassel (2007), the 1st Guangzhou Triennale at the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou (2002), Fuck Off at EastLink Gallery in Shanghai (2000), the second Stars Exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing (1980), and the first Stars Exhibition outside the National Art Museum of China in Beijing (1979).

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