I dont think the Exhibition at the Royal Academy is the best exhibition I have seen of Ai Wei Wei ‘s works or they simply are just not suited for the spaces the Royal Academy can provide. But it is a must to see in support and celebration of what Ai Wei Wei stands for. So great to see him released from confinement in China and seeing the exhibition and the man him self being able to attend. Despite the 4 year confinement he has managed to stage 100 solo exhibitions from his home in China. He is one of the most influential and heroic political artists today and while here in London he recently instigated a protest walk with Anish Kapoor drawing attention to the many Syrian People on the move fleeing from their home country. Ai Wei Wei the person is bigger than
his art he is a tireless campainer for freedom of expression and human rights and he manages to touch millions of people around the western world by way of great art. Less so in China itself where he is far less known to the public and for quite obvious reasons there has been no publicity China since with his work he highlights not only China’s great history but also the grave flaws and shortfalls of his countries regime. Who does not remember ‘The 100 million sunflowerseeds’ at the Tate Modern (2011) and may even secretly harbour a couple of sunflower seeds taken from the exhibiton at home? Each one was handmade and Ai Wei Wei had employed local artisans over two years to craft each and every one.
In this work below at the Royal Academy London , on the wall in the background are the names and details of more than five thousand young people killed in an earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 that destroyed a badly built school buildings. Ai Wei Wei took it upon himself to collect all the names and contacted all the parents who had lost their children in order to commemorate them.
In the foreground are 90 tons of reinforcement bars painstakingly straightend after they had been twistet and destroyed in the earthquake in Sichuan 2008 as a homage to the victims.
One of the works that stays permanently in my mind of Ai Wei Wei is ‘Fairytale’ 2007 Documenta 12. You can see a film clip of it here: https://vimeo.com/68202707 in which he selected 1001 Chinese ordinary citizens as visitors to Documenta and made it possible for them to experience and participate in an intercultural event.