Friday, July 4, 2014

"Ai Weiwei: According To What?" At The Brooklyn Museum

Why does the Chinese government have it in for Ai Weiwei, the country's most prominent international artist? The answer is made evident at the exhibit "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" at the Brooklyn Museum. As a result of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, thousands were killed–including thousands of students who were trapped and crushed in shoddily built schools. Ai had tons of rebar, reinforcement rods, straightened and stacked together, and he compiled a floor-to-ceiling list and recording of the names of the dead, all to official outrage. Ever the provocateur, he blew up the X-rays of his head after the police raided his home and gave him a bashing. He made a marble replica of surveillance cameras that Chinese police used to record his home. When the government evicted a feminist leader from her home and dumped her belongings in a road, Ai replicated her possessions and called it “Ye Haiyan’s Belongings.” The work shown above, "S.A.C.R.E.D.," is from a series of dioramas inside iron boxes into which one peers and sees scenes from the cell in which Ai was detained for 81 days, with ever-present guards. Indeed, Ai turns every means of oppression into art that reflects and indicts the Chinese government. Ai Weiwei's art represents a powerful statement of a courageous individual who refuses to bow to totalitarianism.

Ai Weiwei: According to What?” continues through August 10 at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY, (718) 638-5000,

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