Ai Weiwei, Edmund de Waal

Kneaded Knowledge - The Language of Ceramics (group show)
National Gallery, Prague, 17 March - 27 August 2017

Edmund de Waal, I speak of nothing else, 2015
Edmund de Waal, I speak of nothing else, 2015

Together with the artists Ai Weiwei and Edmund de Waal, the National Gallery in Prague, focuses on a material long attributed to the realm of handicraft: ceramics. Unjustly so, as this material is founded upon millennia of knowledge and a history of art that was constantly recontextualised by contemporaries.

Some of the earliest artworks were ceramics. The modern age in Europe was characterised by an insatiable desire for Chinese porcelain, that would fetch top prices. Be they containers for everyday use or artworks – from time immemorial ceramics would travel the globe, uniting civilizations that knew only little of each other. Long regarded the world over as high art, this traditional medium had a tough time in the modern age, with ceramic art being put in second place as handicraft.

Today, we are increasingly being confronted with this material as the focus falls on recent Asian art and as artistic practice continues to open up. The exhibition Kneaded Knowledge takes a special look at the changes of a technologically conditioned medium that has challenged our ideas for long periods, from olden times to the modern age.

Two of the outstanding artists who devote great attention to this material, Ai Weiwei and Edmund de Waal, act as curatorial and artistic partners for the show. For Kneaded Knowledge they are joining Peter Pakesch to engage in a dialogue on the handling of ceramics across times and cultures. Their own works also feature in the exhibition – of course alongside prominent references and important historical material.

Works by Ai Weiwei, Edmund de Waal, Lynda Benglis, Alison Britton, Hans Coper, Lucio Fontana, Asger Jorn, Kazimir Malevich, Fausto Melotti, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Pablo Picasso, Lucie Rie, Marit Tingleff, Peter Voulkos and others

National Gallery, Prague 


Ai Weiwei

Hansel & Gretel: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ai Weiwei (group show)
Park Avenue Armory, New York
7 June - 6 August 2017

In a new commission that is both object and environment, Pritzker Prize-winning architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron with artist/activist Ai Weiwei explore the meaning of public space in our surveillance-laden world, referencing the story of Hansel and Gretel in which the children lose their way and feel a sense of menace in a space they know and trust. The artists take advantage of the vast openness of the Drill Hall, creating a 21st century public place in which the environment is disconcerting, the entrance is unexpected, and every movement is tracked and surveyed by drones and communicated to an unknown public.

The work builds on the artists’ shared practice as designers of form and investigation (the Beijing Olympic Stadium and “quite simply the best summer Serpentine Pavilion ever” according to Time Out London) and their deep interest in the public realm whether through activism or architecture. Ai Weiwei has described their collaborations as follows: “My experience of working with Jacques and Pierre is that we never think separately. It’s like three soldiers in the war—and that’s a good feeling: we have a constant understanding.”

Curated by Tom Eccles and Hans Ulrich Obrist

Park Avenue Armory

Ai Weiwei

Law of the Journey (solo show)
National Gallery Prague, Prague
17 March 2017 - 7 January 2018

Installation view. Courtesy the artist and National Gallery Prague
Installation view. Courtesy the artist and National Gallery Prague

The exhibition Law of the Journey is Ai Weiwei’s multi-layered, epic statement on the human condition: an artist’s expression of empathy and moral concern in the face of continuous, uncontrolled destruction and carnage. Hosted in a building of symbolic historical charge – a former 1928 Trade Fair Palace which in 1939–1941 served as an assembly point for Jews before their deportation to the concentration camp in Terezín – it works as a site-specific parable, a form of (public) speech, carrying a transgressive power of cathartic experience, but also a rhetoric of failure, paradox and resignation. Like Noah’s Ark, a monumental rubber boat is a contemporary vessel of forced exodus, floating hopelessly within the immense, oceanic abyss of the Gallery’s post-industrial, cathedral-like Big Hall. Set for a journey across the unknown and the infinite, an overcrowded life raft carries ‘the vanguard of their people’, as Hannah Arendt described the illegal and the stateless in her seminal 1943 essay, We Refugees: over 300 figures, squeezed within the confines of a temporary shelter, undertake a journey ‘far out into the unnavigated’, fleeing violence and danger.

National Gallery in Prague

Ai Weiwei

Mountains and Seas (solo show)
Château La Coste, Le Puy Ste Réparade
8 April - 17 June 2017

Installation View. Photograph: Wearecontent, Courtesy the artist and Château La Coste
Installation View. Photograph: Wearecontent, Courtesy the artist and Château La Coste

Over the past two years, Ai Weiwei has been developing a new permanent project for Château La Coste, entitled Ruyi Path after the ceremonial scepter that symbolizes power and good fortune in Chinese history. The organic form of the scepter has provided the plan for a new pathway that weaves between the trees of the forest at Château La Coste and connects two ancient routes on the property. Using cobbles salvaged from the recently renovated ports of Marseille, Ruyi Path has given a new life to these stones that so many have passed over on arrival in Europe. Defying categorization, this structure is both sculpture and architecture; traditional and modern.

To mark the completion of this project, Ai Weiwei is mounting an exhibition at Château La Coste that will provide a broader sense of the artist’s work and contextualize the Ruyi Path within his practice. The works to be exhibited are made using traditional kite-making techniques and employ a wide range of references to Chinese mythology and Ai Weiwei’s own life experiences. Created just before the summer of 2015, when Ai Weiwei’s passport was returned following his detention and subsequent four years of travel restrictions, the works draw from this turbulent period.

Château La Coste

Edmund de Waal

Artipelag, Stockholm
7 April - 1 October 2017

Edmund de Waal, a new ground III, 2015
Edmund de Waal, a new ground III, 2015

The 7th of April is the opening of Artipelag's major spring and summer exhibition with Edmund de Waal and Giorgio Morandi. Here, contemporary British ceramicist and author Edmund de Waal meets renowned Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, whose oeuvre largely consists of still life paintings of pottery. However it is not ceramics that unites these two artists here, but rather the encouragement of mindful viewing and contemplation.

Artipelag, Stockholm 

Ai Weiwei

Luther und die Avantgarde (group show)
Altes Gefängnis, Wittenberg
19 May - 17 September 2017

500 Jahre Reformation: Dieses Jubiläum, das die Welt 2017 begeht, nimmt die Stiftung zum Anlass, Religion und zeitgenössische Kunst zu konfrontieren. „Luther und die Avantgarde“ heißt die Ausstellung, zu der rund 60 internationale Künstlerinnen und Künstler eingeladen sind, u. a. Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Ólafur Elíasson, Ayşe Erkmen, Isa Genzken, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Günther Uecker, Ai Weiwei, Erwin Wurm und Zhang Peili.
Ihre Werke präsentieren die Künstler an drei ungewöhnlichen Orten: Die zentrale Ausstellung findet in der Lutherstadt Wittenberg statt, in einem ehemaligen Gefängnis, das eigens für diesen Anlass saniert und für die Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht wird. Weitere Ausstellungsorte sind die St. Matthäuskirche in Berlin und die Karlskirche in Kassel.

Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. Bonn