Artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has created @Large, a piece for the infamous Alcatraz prison about human rights and expression. The project involved a global team who brought his vision from his studio in China to California.
four-part seven-part installation with sculpture, sounds, and mixed media raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights, melding the exhibit’s prison venue, Ai’s personal experience with imprisonment, and his meaningful artistic style concerned with individual rights and personal responsibility. The video focuses largely on his installation Trace, which is composed of the portraits of 176 political prisoners, each painstakingly made from over 10,000 colorful LEGO bricks, and the creation of With Wind, a “traditional but modern” Chinese kite dragon that represents personal freedom and power.
After his 81-day detainment in 2011, Ai is no longer permitted to leave China, which made installing the artwork in its American locale difficult. The exhibition, set to premiere in the California prison on September 26th, was transported from China to the US with the help of FOR-SITE Foundation, National Park Service, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. According to FOR-SITE’s @Large webpage, “Ai has embraced the ironies of creating site-specific art for a place he couldn’t see, and of celebrating free expression while working under severe constraints. Conflict and struggle have only galvanized the artist’s commitment to art as an act of conscience. With this project, he aims to expand our understanding of ‘the purpose of art, which is the fight for freedom.'”
Watch the full video about @Large here:
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By Briel Waxman