On-going: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012, Magasin 3 (Stockholm)
“Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one’s imagination — and perhaps more importantly — creativity is the power to act. Only through our actions can expectations for change become reality, and only then can our purported creativity build a new foundation, and only then is it possible to draw out human civilization.”
Ai Wei Wei
Ai WeiWei — a Chinese artist, activist, curator, blogger & architect — concerns for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. The on-going exhibition at Magasin 3 shows a selection of his works, focusing on his monumental installations and political work — Chinese socialism, mass production and global trade. In his work, Ai Weiwei often refers to pre-revolutionary China and its cultural and craft traditions. He seeks out iconic objects with great cultural and symbolic value for the Chinese, and then deliberately treats them with complete disregard for its worth or intended function. The artworks can be seen as commentary on the disdain that Mao’s Cultural Revolution showed the past as well as a way for Ai Weiwei himself to dispatch with conventional notions about art and its value.
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing. He co-founded the avant-garde artists’ group Stars at the end of the 1970s before moving to New York in 1983. There he was a leading figure in the community of exiled Chinese artists, writers and musicians and became an active member of the American intellectual and artistic scene. In 1993 Ai Weiwei returned to China where he has worked not only as an artist, but also as a curator, architect and blogger. In recent years his activism for social change in China has increased, making him one of the most outspoken critics of the regime. In October 2011, he was named number one in the ArtReview annual Power 100 list but six months earlier he had been arrested by the Chinese government and held for over two months without any official charges being filed.
As you can imagine the preparation of the exhibition hasn’t been easy as only few months into working together with the artist, Tessa Praun, curator of the exhibition was told that Ai Wei Wei had suddenly been arrested and kept detained — and as she did not know what was going to happen, she had to decide how to move on. In a Konsthopp interview with the curator, this is what she had to say about the continue:
” Together with Ai Weiwei’s assistants we came to the conclusion that the best thing that we could do in that situation was to continue the preparations of the exhibition, it felt even more so important to show his work and make his voice heard. Despite my deep concerns for Ai Weiwei’s situation I had to focus as much as I could on completing the exhibition and do so in the most respectful way”.
One of the way was to create a reading room, which is one of my favorite parts of the exhibition at Magasin 3. The reading room (which is both digital and physical) also includes documentary films, and really gives the visitors a chance to learn more about the artist and his multifaceted efforts to foster social change in China — an activism that has already put him on a collision course with the Chinese regime.
If you haven’t been at Magasin 3 yet — go this weekend! Tomorrow we’ll be publishing our monthly curator interview with Tessa Praun — who shares an informative view of Ai Wei Wei’s work with an inspiring insight of a young, successful curator.
Stay tuned, and happy weekend!
Date: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012
Artist: Ai Wei Wei
Curator: Tessa Praun
Place: Magasin 3, Frihamnen (Stockholm)