Ay BayBay: Ai WeiWei, an AGO affair.

So, i originally planned on this post being about the First Thursday event that is held at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) on the, yepp you guessed it, first Thursday of each month. I thought it would be interesting to write about how everyone dressed up and ate delicious asian take out boxes of garlic chicken and rice, sipped on overpriced drinks, and forcefully listened to awful, loud live music, but i basically just summed it up in that one (run-on) sentence. The fun thing about it? We were in the AGO.

1003558_10151827802360490_931281194_n

J had convinced me to buy my ticket for the Ai WeIWei exhibit as well as the party, and i am so thankful for this.

Before stepping in to the AGO, i had not done the proper research on this inspirational man, who J describes as a political dissonant from China.

1229917_10151827801965490_1332723813_n

All of his artwork and displays are a political commentary on the Chinese governments attempts to erase China’s history, or at least the parts that they do not want to be publicized.1185007_10151827802490490_1009413530_n

In 2008 when a massive earthquake killed close to 90,000, government officials refused to release the exact number of deaths, nor did they acknowledge any accountability. To remember the school children lost in this disaster, WeiWei created a massive serpent solely out of childrens backpacks, each one commemorating a live lost.

1175713_10151827802290490_1267151020_n

The entrance into the exhibit is a long hallway of photographs Weiwei has taken, as well as an installation of 12 monitors displaying photographs taken between 2003-2011. Some of these photos were posted on his blog before the Chinese government forced its closure in 2009. He titles these images “258 Fake” after his Beijing studio located at 258 Caochangdi. He calls his studio ‘Fake’. 559235_10151827802175490_2056126477_n

In 2009 Ai WeiWei was taken into custody by the Chinese police, and during this confrontation he suffered a brain hemorrhage. As he was being escorted by police, he snapped this cute selfie of himself in the elevator mirror, which he quickly uploaded to Twitter.

1185314_10151827802115490_2140212463_n

Weiwei uses Twitter, along with other forms of social media, to communicate his views to the world ever since his blog was forced to shut down.

After walking through the long, picture filled hallway, we entered into a large open room that housed a handful of art displays Weiwei has created. All of them, of course, a commentary on corruption in China.

1238942_10151827801605490_152668868_n

Ai WeiWei uses his art to advocate for freedom of expression and the value of individual lives and voices in a totalitarian state. His political activism and controversial artworks have led to his arrest and the confiscation of his passport.

1094996_10151827801695490_2008979581_n

Ai WeiWei is forced to spend the rest of his years under surveillance at his Beijing studio. He is not allowed to leave China.

1175667_10151827801890490_2001787905_n

Many of the displays in this room were created from materials found and saved during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). He uses these sacred materials and ultimately destroys their value by using them in his artwork, as a comment on the Chinese governments attempts to cover-up China’s past.

1238070_10151827801900490_222141182_n

The ‘China Log’ is created using 8 pillars from the Qing dynasty, and when you look at the cross section you can see a map of China. He is trying to say that even though many historic artifcats (or information) has been destroyed, the past is still a vital part of who ‘WE’ are.

9309_10151827801855490_164305191_n

The ‘Moon Chest’ was my favorite installation, built entirely out of Huali, a very precious wood from the Chinese quince tree. All 7 chests had openings which aligned to show each phase of the moon.

1238146_10151827802055490_1164265230_n

I really wish the chicks face at the end of the chests was more visible because i have a feeling the face she is making is hysterical. I’ll leave that one up to your imagination though.

Photographs lined the walls of the exhibit, many of which were taken during Weiwei’s time in New York City between 1983-1993. He captured many things, from influential people, all the way to important events such as the Tompkins Square riots in 1988.

1175250_10151827802020490_916877328_n

The Coca- Cola vase is another very obvious commentary on the Chinese government and the totalitarian state. Weiwei took ancient vases and inscribed a very well- known American brand onto them: Coca- Cola.

1001439_10151827801645490_1272777349_n

There are many interpretations of this display, however the exhibit asks “Is Ai using the logo to represent democracy in America, where the rich and poor can equally afford a Coke?”

He used these vases in many of his political commentaries.

1231501_10151827801425490_1499143475_n

There was a bunch of these vases that Weiwei dipped in colored paints, destroying their ancient value in the modernization process.

He also took a series of photos where he is holding the vase, and letting it drop to the ground, smashing into many pieces.

969623_10151827801195490_10361534_n

In my opinion, he is saying that the Chinese history, as they tell it, is a fraud. You cannot hide the past, or better yet, you cannot lie about the past. It is the glue that binds cultures together, and by preventing Chinese citizens from knowing the truth, the Chinese government is removing a very basic human rights.

1239534_10151827801555490_2059338102_n

‘Straight’, one of J’s favorite installations, is created out of pipes from a collapsed schoolhouse in the 2008 earthquake. Weiwei had each and every piece of mangled pipe straightened out, which he then used to create this piece. The installation looks like an earthquake fault line.

The exhibit was quite busy when we saw it, so i would highly recommend to everyone to check it out on a quiet afternoon to get the full effect of his work.

1231517_10151827801325490_1901293055_n

As we left the exhibit, they handed out big sheets of paper to everyone, kindly asking us to write down what WE stand for.

1239904_10151827801105490_1019094075_n

Such a cool idea. I did not get as creative as J, but it was still nice to take a moment and think about what, in this crazy mixed up world, is something I strongly believe in? What is something that i would defend whole- heartedly if it was challenged? What would offend me enough to take a stand?

45016_10151827800950490_1056124395_n

They even offered an opportunity to shave your head for justice, just as Weiwei had done. Judging by the amount of hair balls on the ground, people stepped up to the plate. Including me! (HAHAHA)

1236928_10151827802160490_2029960079_n

After all the stencils, crayons and paint were left behind, J and I devoured some delicious food, washed down by a few hefty glasses of wine (which i am currently still feeling as i write this post).

1239392_10151827801215490_1531931794_n

I wish i could say the actual party was a hoot, however the live band they had legit made me want to run into a corner and cry. Loud, heavy, screamo… in an art gallery. WHAT were they thinking? So, after a few more drinks, we headed out to the next party.

Thanks Ai WeiWei, for a truly eye opening experience. I might stumble back into your loving exhibit arms before its gone, just to get some alone time with your wonderful works of art.

As for now, i am going to take a stand, literally, and go get me some coffee. And maybe a few Tylenol. 

SOS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s