Sitting on a stool designed by Ai Weiwei in Cell Block B, listening to Tibetan singer, Lolo or the Russian feminist band, Pussy Riot or American, Martin Luther King, or Sudanese, Mahjourb Sharif, or Czech composer, Pavel Haas is Stay Tuned, a sound installation by Ai WeiWei and one of six pieces of @Large on Alcatraz. If the egg is the perfect package, then Alcatraz is the perfect venue for Ai Weiwei @Large. Never didactic, but always political, after going through the exhibition, visitors reach the Dining Hall. Yours Truly invites visitors to write postcards to political dissents whose faces and stories were “drawn” in Trace. Can Art move one to political action, the 70,000 written postcards are an answer to that question.
There are 1.2 million legos in Trace. 80 volunteers from the Bay area put together 176 portraits according to a thousand page instruction booklet sent by Ai Weiwei to the exhibition organizers. Ai WeiWei selected individuals based on information provided by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, as well as independent research by the artist’s studio and the Ford Foundation.
In the original hospital wing of Alcatraz, Ai Weiwei designed Blossoms.
Just like the millions of hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds made for the Tate Modern; Ai Weiwei created thousands of white porcelain blossoms to fill the Hospital Ward, sinks, toilets and bathtubs. It’s Ai Weiwei at his best: turning a common object on its head. The text for Blossom says the flowers are an “iconic reference to the famous Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956, a brief period of government tolerance for free expression that was immediately followed by a severe crackdown against dissent.”
“The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”
— Ai Weiwei
@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz
September 27, 2014 – April 26, 2015 at Alcatraz Island