News / Asia

New Ai Weiwei Exhibition Unveiled in Berlin, but Artist Can't Attend

People walk beside an advertising poster for the exhibition 'Evidence' by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin, April 2, 2014.
People walk beside an advertising poster for the exhibition 'Evidence' by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin, April 2, 2014.
Reuters
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's biggest solo show, featuring a reproduction of the white cell where he was held for 81 days by Chinese authorities, was unveiled on Wednesday in Berlin without Ai in attendance because the government still has his passport.

“Ai Weiwei - Evidence” - which sprawls through 18 rooms at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum - is a deeply political exhibition of his conceptual art. It opens on Thursday, exactly three years after he was arrested and held in detention.

A white bedroom with foam-covered walls and surveillance cameras reproduces his prison cell.

An outspoken critic of the Chinese government's record on free speech and human rights, Ai did not attend the show's news conference as the Chinese government retained his passport after his release.

“I may have a chance to come to the show, I hope this can be possible, but I don't know,” the bearded artist said via video message.

His detention prompted an international outcry and Germany was among those countries that have asked for his release.

“Germany is a place that gives me a lot of support,” said Ai, who was awarded a professorship in absentia at Berlin's University of the Arts in 2011.

German curator Gereon Sievernich, who visited the artist in his studio on the outskirts of Beijing, said Ai created several installations specifically for the show.

“He says he wants to prove the truth,” said Sievernich, in reference to the exhibition's title “Evidence.”

Ai's public comments, activities and art flagrantly defy China's strict controls on the Internet and traditional media.

Weiwei readymades

The Berlin show, which runs until July 7, deals with Ai's detention but also with modernization in China and its perils.

In one of the most striking installations, 6,000 wooden stools gathered from villages across northern China from past centuries are packed into the neo-classical atrium.

They all share the same design but some are painted green, red and yellow, others have narrow seats. All are unique.

“These stools represent a piece of individuality,” Sievernich said, comparing them with mass-manufactured plastic stools. “Today they are vestiges of history.”

Other works reflect on traditional handicrafts, history and modernity but are more playful and inspired by Ai's admiration of the Dadaist and conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp's readymades.

In one work particularly appropriate for car-crazy Germany, Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) vases are covered in metallic paint in the same colors as those used on Mercedes and BMW automobiles.

“Each vase is no longer recognizable as an ancient artifact, yet beneath the thin outer layer the history and complexity of the original remain intact,” the accompanying text reads.

Ai's career has spanned protests for artistic freedom in 1979, provocative works in the 1990s, and a hand in designing the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as creating “Sunflower Seeds,” a London-based exhibition comprised of 100 million hand-painted porcelain seeds.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid