“…To be true to myself, to be the person that was on the inside of me, and not play games. That’s what I’m trying to do mostly in the whole world, is to not bullshit myself and not bullshit anybody else.”
Taiwanese film student, New York, 1987 (Ai Weiwei)
Ai Weiwei - According to What?
Indianapolis Museum of Art
April 5-July 31, 2013
Just returned from the opening day of the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone capable of making their way to the Midwest before it closes. Truly one of the most powerful, provocative and intensely personal displays of art that I have ever witnessed.
A major retrospective of the artist’s work, this not-to-be-missed exhibition includes examples from the broad spectrum of the artist’s practice, which encompasses sculpture, photography, video, and site-specific architectural installations as well as the design for the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
Ai is known as one of China’s most provocative and vocal artists; his focus on human rights and social change eventually led to his detainment by Chinese authorities for nearly three months in 2011. The Chinese government later supplied charges of tax evasion against Ai, which he vehemently denies. Since his detainment, Ai has been kept under constant surveillance by the government—a circumstance that has led him to create a series of new works, including a marble surveillance camera, that will be part of this exhibition.
Ai Weiwei: According to What? also includes a new sculpture made from steel rebar that was salvaged from schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The piece points to the inferior construction that caused the government-built schools to collapse while other buildings remained unscathed. Straight (2008–2012) is a powerful indictment of the Chinese government and a monumental reminder of the many young people who died in the earthquake.