“Dancing in chains” from the Rock @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, ending April 26, 2015

14 Apr

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“Dancing in chains” from the Rock

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

On view through April 26, 2015


Where would you go to find freedom? Chances are, Alcatraz would be one of the last places you’d look.

Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock,” has quite a storied history. Over the years, it has been a 19th-century military fortress; a maximum-security federal penitentiary; site of a Native American heritage protest; and today, one of America’s most-visited national parks.

No stranger to controversy, Ai Weiwei has transformed Alcatraz into an unusual exhibition that plays on his own status as a prisoner in his own country. Through a collection of four works – Tuning In, Blossom, Illumination, and Wind – @Large is a multimedia exhibit that invites viewers to ask uncomfortable questions about freedom, liberty, and human rights.

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About Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a contemporary artist and activist based in Beijing, China. One of his most prominent artistic achievements was his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the “Bird’s Nest” stadium, used during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As a political activist, Ai has spoken out openly and critically about the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human liberty. In 2011, Ai was suddenly secretly detained by the Chinese authorities for 81 days; since then, he has not been permitted to travel outside China.

Ai Weiwei was not able to visit Alcatraz for the planning of @Large. With the help of FOR-SITE Foundation, Ai developed all the artwork remotely from his studio in Beijing. The irony of this situation makes @Large all the more interesting. Ai has embraced the ironies of creating site-specific art for a place he could not see and celebrates the act of free expression while working under severe constraints.

Ai Weiwei’s goal is for people to understand the true “purpose of art, which is the fight for freedom.”

Mark your calendars now. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to literally step into someone else’s shoes – come sit inside a prisoner’s cell – and listen to the universal voice of freedom from “The Rock”.


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