Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei comes to Alcatraz this month with exhibit @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz.
“Bird’s Nest” Beijing Olympics National Stadium (2008). Ai’s collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron./China Today
“Sunflower Seeds” (2010). Each porcelain sunflower seed was handcrafted by Ai. /Tate Photography
“Straight” (2013). Ai creates a fault line using over 150 tons of steel rebar from the Sichuan earthquake remains. /NPR
“S.A.C.R.E.D” (2011-2013). Six everyday scenes from Ai's 81-day incarceration, in diorama boxes. /SCMP
“Caonima Style” (2012). The dissident artist made his own cover of PSY’s viral song “Gangnam Style.” /Ai Weiwei
“Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” (1995) and “Colored Vases” (2006-). Three-panel work and Ai's painted Han vases. /The Guardian
“New York Photographs” (1983-1993). Ai took 10,000+ photographs during his decade in New York at the age of 24. /Asia Society
Ordos 100 (unrealized). The ongoing construction project of 100 Inner Mongolia villas, curated by Ai. /Ai Weiwei
Tsai residence (2006). Ai & HHF Architects' award-winning design of this private country house in upstate New York. /Arch Daily
“With Flowers” (2013-). Ai vowed to place fresh flowers outside his studio each morning until he could travel freely. /Ai Weiwei
Lately, Cheryl Haines, apostle of public art and owner of the Haines Gallery in Union Square, has been hard to track down. Her recent missions to Beijing, in which she ferries maps of Alcatraz to acclaimed dissident artist Ai Weiwei, have seized much of her schedule. Ai, who has been barred from leaving China by the nation’s government since an arrest in 2011 (note to file: beware of explicitly critiquing the country’s repression and graft), is currently at work on “@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz,” a public art collaboration between Haines’ nature-focused art organization, FOR-SITE, the National Park Service, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Penetrative and profound, the multimedia installation of sound and sculpture will occupy four typically verboten zones on Alcatraz and explore incarceration, a topic Ai is quite familiar with. “Our visits have been fascinating,” says Haines, who has made six trips to Beijing since the project’s inception. “To bring a site-specific exhibition together in nine months when the artist is prohibited from visiting the site is the best kind of challenge—complex and rewarding all at the same time.” — David Kurlander
@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz runs Sept. 27–Apr. 26, 2015, Alcatraz
Browse through Ai's provocative portfolio in the slideshow above.
This article was published in 7x7's September 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.