Last Thursday my new course organised a trip to see the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. In a similar experience to when I last went to the RA to see Anselm Kiefer, while Ai Weiwei's is not normally my sort of thing I came away really enjoying it.
Since his detainment in Beijing and removal of passport in 2011, Ai Weiwei's ability to leave his country has not affected his art's own ability to cross borders. The curation of his work includes a variety of themes, but if there was a focus it seems to be aimed at the craftsmanship of modern and historic china and how that can be implemented today (especially poignant when considering Mao's 'cultural revolution'), looking at history and culture in China as well as his critiques of the Chinese Government.
A room that stood out in particular is a room devoted to the Sichuan Earthquake which features three walls covered almost top to bottom in names in about size 12 font. These are the names of the dead- in particular the many school children who died due to shoddily constructed school buildings which ignored safety codes. In the centre of the room is 'Straight', a 200 tonne installation that implicitly memorialises those that lost their lives in the earthquake. This installation is a collection of the the steel rebars in the concrete used to make the collapsed buildings painstakingly restored to how they would've looked before the disaster occurred and organised in such a way to resemble the Richter scale with a fissure running through the centre.
I've included a gallery of the photos I took but that in no way replaces what its like to see this work upfront and I would highly recommend going to see this in person if at all possible.
To move through the images just click on the photo.