The Chinese Government’s action to arrest Ai Weiwei at Beijing’s airport in 2011 detaining him for two months without charge, has set off a domino effect turning the once obscure multi disciplinary artist into a household name and a symbol of China’s pro- democracy movement, even in America.
Since his release in June 2011, Mr Ai’s bronze monumental sculptural installation, titled Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, began an international tour and has been exhibited in London, Paris, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Houston ,Brazil,Taipei, and now at Princeton University.
One of the six versions of Zodiac Heads is on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington through Feb. 24. A second casting was installed at Princeton University on 1 Aug. A major survey of Mr Ai’s work will go on display at the Hirshhorn on 7 October and a documentary film titled, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, is showing around the country.
In October, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden presents a major Ai Weiwei exhibition in Washington, DC. An outdoor public sculpture installation, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, has already opened on the Museum’s plaza and in October, the public gallery will be the first venue on the East Coast to offer a retrospective of the artist’s work. A schedule of screenings of Ai Weiwei: According to What?, a new documentary film will also be shown. The exhibition will occupy a full floor of the Museum and include examples from the broad spectrum of his artistic practice, from his monumental sculptures that repurpose objects from everyday life in ways that offer commentaries on modernisation and shifting value structures in a rapidly changing society to his performance works that call into question his own cultural history and identity and his cyber-presence and activism.
Mr Ai is known for such major projects as the installation “Fairytale” at Documenta 12 in 2007 and his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as for his embrace of the Internet and social media as active platforms for commentary and art forms in their own right. Throughout his career, he has offered insights into the interrelations between art, society and individual experience and has explored such universal topics as culture, history, politics and tradition.
Of Mr Ai’s work, Hirshhorn director Richard Koshalek said, “This exhibition directly reflects the Hirshhorn’s priorities now and for the future, as we anticipate the museum’s upcoming 40th anniversary. We are especially interested in cultivating an increased focus on the artist’s presence throughout the museum, the curating of all of our public spaces, both interior and exterior, deep research and thematic content in the service of richly educational experiences, and the artistic deployment of new social media and its effects on cultural institutions. We are pleased to work with Ai Weiwei, an artist who addresses these issues in his work and who occupies a central place in contemporary art overall.”