Trace at Hirshhorn (solo show)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
28 June 2017 - 1 January 2018
One of China’s most provocative living artists, Ai Weiwei (b. Beijing, 1957) has spent nearly four decades exploring the relationships between art, society, and individual experience. His work, as prolific as it is eclectic, encompasses a wide range of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, film, painting, and architecture. Ai Weiwei began seeking to incite change through his art in the late 1970s, and as his work has developed, he has become increasingly committed to his guiding principle of promoting human rights and freedom of expression for all.
Ai Weiwei’s monumental installation Trace portrays individuals from around the world whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech. Each of these 176 portraits comprises thousands of plastic LEGO® bricks, assembled by hand and laid out on the floor. The work foregrounds Ai Weiwei’s own experiences of incarceration, interrogation, and surveillance. In 2011, he was detained by the Chinese government for eighty-one days and then prohibited from traveling abroad until 2015. In 2012, the Hirshhorn opened Ai’s first major US retrospective, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which he was unable to attend.
Originally commissioned in 2014, Trace first opened as part of @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a site-specific takeover of the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco, a collaboration between the nonprofit FOR-SITE Foundation, the National Park Service and the Golden Gate Park Conservancy.
Like Ai Weiwei, the individuals represented in Trace have been detained, exiled, or have sought political asylum because of their actions, beliefs, or affiliations. The subjects were chosen by Ai Weiwei and reflect his response to information provided by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, as well as his own independent research.
As part of this installation, Ai Weiwei has created a new 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the pattern looks merely decorative, but a closer inspection reveals surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos, which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority. Together, the massive works span nearly 700 feet around the Hirshhorn’s third floor Outer Ring galleries.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11 (group show)
Imperial War Museum, London
26 October 2017 - 28 May 2018
See the UK’s first major exhibition of artists’ responses to war and conflict since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11 will feature more than 40 British and international artists, including Ai Weiwei, Grayson Perry, Gerhard Richter, Jenny Holzer, Mona Hatoum, Alfredo Jaar, Coco Fusco and Jake & Dinos Chapman.
The complex issues surrounding the global response to 9/11, the nature of modern warfare and the continuing state of emergency in which we find ourselves have become compelling subject matter for contemporary artists.
Artists’ unique ways of communicating through their art provide different levels of understanding. The stories they tell, whether first or second-hand, come from alternative viewpoints not always reflected in the mainstream media, often challenge our perceptions.
Through 50 works of art including film, sculpture, painting, installations, photography and prints, many of which will be exhibited publicly in the UK for the first time, this exhibition highlights the crucial role of artists in representing contemporary conflict.
The exhibition will be presented through four key themes: artists’ direct or immediate responses to the events of 9/11; issues of state surveillance and security; our complex relationship with firearms, bombs and drones and the destruction caused by conflict on landscape, architecture and people.
Imperial War Museum, London
Yokohama Triennale 2017 - Islands, Constellations & Galapagos (group show)
Various venues, Yokohama
4 August - 5 November 2017
While the world today is expanding beyond traditional frameworks, and various kinds of networks are growing, it is being shaken to its foundations by challenges such as conflict, refugees and immigration, and the emergence of protectionism, xenophobia, and populism. At the same time, the world is awash in data far exceeding the processing capacity of human beings, and in an increasingly complex and sophisticated environment where communication tools such as social media are developing rapidly, people appear to be banding together into small, disparate groups of “island universe” and communities. Also, there is increasingly assertive activity by a wide range of small-scale organizations that challenge the dictates of superpowers and centralized political systems.
Against this backdrop of widespread disruption of conventional social frameworks and values, Yokohama Triennale 2017 embarks on a multi-faceted examination, through art, of the themes of connectivity and isolation, under the title “Islands, Constellations & Galapagos.” We will contemplate the world in which conflicting concepts and phenomena are intricately intertwined and constantly in flux, the nature of identity and diversity, and how the courage, imagination and creativity of human beings can be used to derive a new vision and ground design for the future when our future remains uncertain. At the main venues ‒ Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1, and Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall ‒ works in diverse media by approximately 40 artists or groups from Japan and the world will be exhibited. It will resemble an aggregation of small solo exhibitions by a smaller-than-usual number of carefully selected artists, with many of them showing multiple works. This is intended to give the viewers a deeper understanding of individual artists’ creative worlds, and at the same time, to embody the image of these worlds gradually connecting like stars or islands forming constellations and archipelagoes.
Participants include artists who consistently address issues with their own unique methods, and carry out activities that transcend existing frameworks and concepts, as well as collaborations among artists and projects that address pressing social issues from an artistic point of view. The themes dealt in their works are broad: some refer to the individual and society, the self and other, and states and national borders, and others question different historical views, human activities, and civilizations as well as specifically Japanese issues of isolation. Encountering with works on various themes will enable viewers to develop their thinking about the cycles of history, the continental world and the island world, and alternative ways of dealing with various issues.
In the planning and conceptualizing stages, the Triennale has deepened the concept from various angles through a Conception Meeting that includes experts from different fields. Also, we are organizing the “Yokohama Round,” a series of dialogues also featuring experts from various fields, as a platform for discussions and sharing/co-existence in exploring ideas through both visual examination and dialogue. In addition, we will collaborate with the local educational institutions such as the Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture (Y-GSA) of Yokohama National University and highlight historical sites in the city, seeking to approach the historical background of the opening of the port and the nation as a whole from multifaceted and locally grounded perspectives.
Yokohama Triennale 2017
Extra Bodies – The Use of the «Other Body» in Contemporary Art (group show)
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich
18 November 2017 - 4 February 2018
This exhibition investigates an artistic phenomenon that appeared often in the 1990s, characterised by artists using «other bodies» for their works and making their «vitality» central. These works are all performance-based. The exhibition focuses on works in which the exhibited artists make use of the «other bodies» on the basis of their respective specific social roles, thus making the societal dimension a constituent element of the work – these «other bodies» can also be described as «extras». In multiple exhibition sections, which span both floors of the museum and incorporate many works from the museum's collection, light is shed on this phenomenon, and artworks from the 1960s to the present day are brought together by way of example. Most of all, the transition from the use of a «bio-political» body to a «psycho-political» body, as seen over the last 30 years, is in the foreground.
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich
Red-Hot and Newly Acquired: Recent Additions to the Collection (group show)
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro
17 June – 15 October 2017
Last year the Weatherspoon celebrated its 75th anniversary and showcased many outright and promised gifts to the collection as part of the festivities. Not all recent additions to the collection, however, could be included. This exhibition focuses on those that the museum purchased through established art acquisition endowments or using donated funds. These purchases, along with four gifts of art, allow us to acknowledge that the museum’s broad collection and steady growth and innovation result in part from many kinds of civic generosity. Artwork by Ai Weiwei, Mickalene Thomas, Tony Oursler, and Rozeal are but a few new additions highlighted.
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro
Chinese Summer (group show)
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
2 June - 10 September 2017
The name of the exhibition Chinese Summer is a metaphor for a nation and art scene that have seen explosive growth over the last two decades. China is now one of the most important industrial and economic forces on the planet and this has been matched by overwhelming artistic and cultural production that in recent years has moved from a local situation to a position on the global stage.
The pioneering generation of artists came to public attention during the 1980s, when there was a creative explosion in China. This spearheaded the artistic revolution that continues through to the present day. These first-generation artists emerged out of an extended period of cultural isolation and a closed regional context characterised by a highly traditional way of conceiving and appreciating art. They abandoned traditional formal approaches and adopted many of the radical aesthetic and conceptual paradigms of the Western avant-garde. Spread thinly throughout the nation and working in self-organised clusters, talents were home-grown and their progressive activities were not the product of an institutional system but the result of the will to advance cultural dialogue.
The Chinese artists who emerged at the beginning of the new century highlight the tremendous creativity of those who are breaking new territory in international contemporary art. These artists tend to adhere to a tradition of post-conceptual art premised upon ideas and artistic concepts rather than materials or formal techniques. Their works are realised as installations, films, sculptures, photographs, computer graphics and paintings. Audiences are confronted with a variety of works that tell stories about universal topics of power and politics, identity, history, memory and nostalgia. Other works take on abstract notions like time, unpredictability, chance and illusion. Like the society in which they live, the artists are acutely aware of their place in history, and there is a profound intermingling of joyfulness and unadulterated aspiration with serious social and political questions.
The Chinese contemporary artists from these different generations are all in one way or another caught in a productive tension between tradition and modernity – between being global citizens and denizens of an unprecedented period of vitality on the Asian mainland. They situate their practice in a reaction to the social and spatial infrastructure of their country, but they are also citizens of the world, as we can see from the many foreign iconographical references in their work. Eminently original, poetic, dramatic and even frightening, these ambitious works narrate transcultural fictions.
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
Primary structures and speculative forms (group show)
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
15 October 2016 - 6 August 2017
Sculpture lies at the heart of the John Kaldor Family Collection and is also a strength of the Gallery’s collection of contemporary international art.
In 1966, five years after he started his collection, John Kaldor viewed the now-legendary Primary structures: younger American and British sculptors exhibition, curated by Kynaston McShine for the Jewish Museum, New York. Widely credited for introducing minimalism to the United States, the exhibition featured an emerging group of artists whose works took abstract, geometric forms achieved via industrial fabrication techniques. By exhibiting as ‘art’ objects that they conceived and designed, but did not necessarily make themselves, the artists helped shift the aesthetic course of 20th-century sculpture.
Primary structures and speculative forms takes McShine’s exhibition as a point of departure and explores various strands of artmaking that connect it to the present. At the core of the exhibition are works by artists associated with 1960s minimalism. Spiralling out from them are the speculative forms of contemporary artists whose works question or expand upon the minimalist tradition, through the use of ready-made objects, the creation of objects that incorporate the body, and the application of sculptural principles to two-dimensional media.
Artists include Ai Weiwei, Carl Andre, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Larry Bell, Thomas Demand, Vincent Fecteau, Sol LeWitt, Anthony McCall, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Gabriel Orozco, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Monika Sosnowska, Tatiana Trouvé, Franz West and Rachel Whiteread.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Ai Weiwei (solo show)
Various locations, The Contemporary Austin, Austin
3 June 2017 - ongoing
The Contemporary Austin and Waller Creek Conservancy announce an upcoming two-part outdoor exhibition of large-scale installations by Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, to go on view to the public beginning June 3, 2017, as part of The Contemporary Austin’s partnership with Waller Creek Conservancy and its Museum Without Walls program. The project is made possible by the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation and represents the second collaboration between The Contemporary Austin and Waller Creek Conservancy.
The works include the striking installation Forever Bicycles, 2014, installed by The Contemporary Austin at the Waller Delta (74 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas), and Iron Tree Trunk, 2015, on view at The Contemporary Austin’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria (3809 West 35th Street, Austin, Texas). The public opening for both works by Ai Weiwei will be celebrated with free family-friendly art activities and refreshments on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to noon at the sculpture Forever Bicycles at the Waller Delta. Both works will remain on view as long-term loans.
The Contemporary Austin, Austin
Glasstress 2017 (group show)
Palazzo Franchetti San Marco, Fondazione Berengo, Venice
11 May - 26 November 2017
Glasstress is a project by Adriano Berengo to further his mission of marrying contemporary art and glass. Artists of all disciplines from sculptors to musicians have been invited to collaborate with the maestros in creating art in glass. Since 2009, these works have been exhibited in the historic Palazzo Franchetti, home of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti. Glasstress has always been accredited as an official collateral event of the Venice Biennale of Art. Glasstress, a showcase of this collaboration of craft and creativity, has forged a new trajectory for glass and a new path for contemporary artists.
Fondazione Berengo, Venice
Ai Weiwei: Maybe, Maybe Not (solo show)
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
2 June - 28 October 2017
On display for the first time in Israel, works by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, one of the most influential and esteemed members of the international contemporary art scene. Weiwei artworks combine sculpture, photography, video, and large-scale installations, such as his astounding 2010 installation which covered the entire floor of the Tate Museum in London with hundreds of tons of sunflower seeds, each one sculpted from porcelain and painted by hand. This work addresses the accelerated production processes which are eradicating both traditional Chinese handcrafting and lifestyles, and is one of the works on display here. This exhibition – spread out over a number of galleries – features powerful and visually captivating works exploring issues facing contemporary culture. Weiwei was imprisoned without trial in his native China, and his movements were restricted by the government due to his political activism and outspoken stance on human rights and freedom of expression, messages which are central themes in his art.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Amsterdam Light Festival (group show)
30 November 2017 - 21 January 2018
Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival in the city center of Amsterdam. Light art is a relatively young art form that experiences a great growth because of the LED revolution. Light is a versatile and highly visual ‘material’ that can be used both abstract and figurative. Both forms are reflected in the artworks of the festival.
Amsterdam Light Festival, Amsterdam
21st Biennale of Sydney (group show)
Various locations, Sydney
16 March - 11 June 2018
“The curatorial premise of the 21st Biennale of Sydney is an exhibition that will explore multiple viewpoints in search of a state of equilibrium. With a holistic view, the Biennale will also seek in-depth engagement with individuals and communities while exploring a range of perspectives and meanings of abstractions.
“The exhibition will be a journey; a walk through microcosms of the world today based on the stratum of history, human knowledge, emotions, desires and beliefs, as well as the mysteries of natural phenomena and the whole of the universe.”
21st Biennale of Sydney
Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (solo show)
Bayfront Gardens, The Ringling, Sarasota, FL
9 June 2017 - 1 June 2018
The Ringling is pleased to announce the presentation of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s 12 monumental bronze sculptures, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. A sculptor, photographer, installation artist, architect, and social activist, Ai is one of the most renowned artists working today.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads was inspired by the fabled fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an 18th-century imperial retreat just outside Beijing. Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits at the behest of the Manchu Emperor Qianlong, the fountain-clock featured the animals of the Chinese zodiac, each spouting water at two hour intervals. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged.
Seven out of the 12 animal heads in Ai’s piece are based on the original fountain works that have been discovered—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, horse, monkey, and boar. The remaining five are the artist’s reimagining of the currently missing artifacts—dragon, snake, goat, rooster, and dog. The dual title of the work addresses the artist’s desire that the piece be relatable on many different levels and to people who may not know the original sculpture’s history.
In re-interpreting these objects on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on questions of looting and repatriation, while extending his ongoing exploration of the 'fake' and the copy in relation to the original. He states that each piece is “a copy of an original, but not an exact copy—something that has its own sensitive layer of languages, which are different, and that bears the mark of our time.”
The 12 bronze Zodiac Heads stand on bronze columns. Each animal head measures approximately 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. The animal heads on their columns reach between 9.8 and 12 feet high, with each one weighing approximately 800 lbs. This group of works, (including a smaller copy in gold) has been exhibited worldwide since the official launch of the Zodiac Heads in 2011, making it one of the most viewed sculpture projects in the history of contemporary art.
The Ringling, Sarasota
Natural State (solo show)
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI
27 January - 20 August 2017
This landmark exhibition, presented by the Daniel & Pamella DeVos Foundation, will feature internationally renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Opening on January 27, 2017, Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State is his first show in the upper Midwest as well as the first of its kind for the artist at a botanical garden or sculpture park. Ai Weiwei has emerged as one of the definitive cultural voices of the 21st century. Known to work in a wide variety of contexts and scale, his ability to transform materials to share his ideas, concerns and vision has given rise to a critically acclaimed and widely appreciated body of work. Iconic among recent work is his colossal Iron Tree, acquired and installed in 2015 in honor of Meijer Gardens' 20th anniversary.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (solo show)
Public Art Fund, Various locations, New York
12 October 2017 - 11 February 2018
This October, as a highlight of its 40th anniversary in 2017, Public Art Fund presents Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, a timely new exhibition across multiple boroughs by world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei. Inspired by the international migration crisis and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide, the artist has conceived of this ambitious, multi-site project as a way of transforming the metal wire security fence into a powerful artistic symbol. By installing fences in varying, site-specific forms at locations across the city – including sites like the New York City Economic Development Corporation-managed Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Astor Place, JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation, Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens both in partnership with NYC Parks, and numerous others throughout the city – Ai will create striking installations that draw attention to the role of the fence as both a physical manifestation and metaphorical expression of division. In this way, he will explore one of society’s most urgent issues, namely the psychic and physical barriers that divide us, which is at the heart of debates about immigration and refugees today.
Public Art Fund, New York
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
Law of the Journey (solo show)
National Gallery Prague, Prague
17 March 2017 - 7 January 2018
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.
Ai Weiwei, Edmund de Waal
Kneaded Knowledge - The Language of Ceramics (group show)
National Gallery, Prague
17 March - 27 August 2017
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
Luther and the Avantgarde (group show)
Altes Gefängnis, Wittenberg
19 May - 17 September 2017
International contemporary art meets the spiritual figure of Luther — this is the starting point for the exhibition Luther and the Avant-garde presented by the Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur (Foundation for Art and Culture), in cooperation with Reformationsjubiläum 2017 e.V. The exhibition will not focus on Martin Luther as a historic figure but as a visionary and avant-gardist of his era. The historic prison in Wittenberg will serve as a central exhibition venue and is being renovated and opened to the public on the occasion of the exhibition.
The artists have been invited to address the inspiring ideas of the Reformation, which have not lost their currency today. The views of artists on subjects such as attitude, desire for change and responsibility play a central role. The exhibition will include works by i.a. Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Ólafur Elíasson, Ayşe Erkmen, Isa Genzken, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Günther Uecker, Ai Weiwei, Erwin Wurm, and Zhang Peili. Additional exhibition sites are the St. Matthäus Kirche in Berlin and the Karlskirche in Kassel, where art takes up residence in church buildings.