June 29, 2014


April 3, 2014 – July 13, 2014

April 3, 2014 – July 13, 2014
Modernism is the original creation of enlightened human beings, it is the ultimate observation of the meaning of existence and the misery of reality; it keeps a wary eye on society and power; it never makes compromises and never cooperates.
Ai Weiwei 1997 (quoted from “Ai Weiwei - Der verbotene Blog”, Galiani: Berlin, 2011)
Despite all the incredible hostility shown him in his own country Ai Weiwei decided to put on his largest one-man exhibition yet in Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau. On 3,000 square metres in 18 rooms and the spectacular Lichthof he will be displaying works and installations which were either designed for the Martin-Gropius-Bau or have not yet been shown in Germany.
The name he has given to his exhibition is “Evidence”, a term well known beyond the English-speaking world from American TV crime series in the meaning of proof that will stand up in court. It is a political exhibition that Ai Weiwei has designed for Berlin in his simple and spacious studio in the rural outskirts of Beijing.
In spite of all the hostile oppression he has been facing in his own country, Ai Weiwei has decided to put on his largest one-man exhibition yet at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau. Across 3,000 square metres, 18 rooms and in the spectacular Lichthof he will display works and installations that were either designed specifically for the Martin-Gropius-Bau or have not yet been shown in Germany.
The name he has given to his exhibition is “Evidence”, a word that will be, a term well known beyond the English-speaking world from American crime series on TV to mean proof that will stand up in court. From his simple but spacious studio on the rural outskirts of Beijing, Ai Weiwei has created a deeply political exhibition for Berlin.
Ai Weiwei is an artist, architect and politician. Very few of his works do not contain hidden allusions to internal Chinese affairs or to the subject of “China and the West” in general. One must learn to spot the ironical historical and political references in his works, which he sends out into the world like messages in bottles.
Ai Weiwei is one of the most internationally renowned artists working today, this did not prevent the Chinese authorities from detaining him illegally for 81 days (81, 2014). He was kept in a cell in a secret prison where the light was switched on for 24 hours a day and he was always accompanied by two guards. He later reproduced the handcuffs with which had shackled him to a chair during his imprisonment from the precious material jade (Jade Handcuffs, 2013).
Random arrests and corruption happen to regular Chinese citizens on a daily basis. Ai Weiwei refuses to accept this status quo. He demands freedom of speech, a fair distribution of power, and multiparty democracy. The infinite variety of forms offered by conceptual art allows him to express his ideas in a country where freedom of expression does not exist.
He is also one of the most famous artists in China. In recent years, official Chinese propaganda has attempted to erase him from public consciousness. He is not allowed to exhibit in any museum in China. Ai Weiwei’s instant response to this tactic was to turn the Internet into his permanent exhibition space: his now banned blogposts are outstanding, as is his current presence on Instagram.

Although he is allowed to work in his studio, a dozen surveillance cameras have been placed before his door. His ironic response was to hang red lanterns on them and reproduce them in marble (Marble Surveillance Cameras, 2010). The actions of the regime have been incorporated into his conceptual art. Although he is allowed to travel within China, every step he takes is monitored by undercover agents. His passport has been confiscated to prevent him from travelling abroad.

Among the works and installations on display at the Martin-Gropius-Bau will be a golden copy of the zodiac sculptures (Golden Zodiac, 2011) cast in bronze (c. 1750) by Chinese craftsmen according to designs by the Europeans Castiglione and Benoist. They formed part of a kind of sun and water clock and were located in a garden commissioned by the Emperor which also featured buildings in the European style. In 1860, after the end of the Second Opium War, the entire garden was ransacked and torched by the rapacious British and French soldiers that had conquered Beijing in order to force China to take part in the opium trade. Some of these bronze zodiac figures found their way to Europe, and when they turned up in Paris in 2008 at an auction of Yves Saint-Laurent’s art collection they caused a sensation in the Chinese cultural sphere. Ai Weiwei does not accept the Chinese government’s stance, that these bronze figures are Chinese national treasures, declaring that, rather, they belong to the whole world.
Ai Weiwei recreates the disputed Pacific Diaoyu Islands (Diaoyu Islands, 2013) in marble taken from a quarry near Beijing for the exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Formed from the same marble used by China’s emperors for the Forbidden City as well as by the country’s present rulers for the Mao Mausoleum, his intention is to give an artistic form to a conflict that threatens today’s globalized world.
These instant transformations of current political affairs into art are characteristic of some of the artist’s most important installations. Thus, the twisted reinforcing steel rods recall the terrible earthquake in Sichuan (Forge, 2008-2012; Forge bed, 2008-2012) and the 80,000 lives it claimed and through this, the mismanagement and corruption that exacerbated the disaster. The same can be said of his major work “1,800 Cans of Powdered Milk”, which he exhibited in Hong Kong for the first time in 2013 – a commentary on the scandal that erupted world-wide after Chinese children were poisoned by contaminated milk powder resulting from lax inspections.
Ai Weiwei often uses ancient Chinese materials as well. He has occasionally said, that he wants to provoke an emotional reaction in the spectator by using contradictory elements – for instance, when he dips ancient ceramic vases from the Han Dynasty period (202 BC – 220 AC) in car paint in the same shades as are currently en vogue with the German luxury car owners in Beijing (Han Dynasty Vases with Auto Paint, 2013).
He adopts an equally playful approach both to Serialism, an ancient tradition that can be found in historical Buddhist temples, as well as to Minimalism, which was characteristic of the Song Dynasty period (960-1126). Transferring Chinese art’s traditional and familiar iconography to today‘s “universal language” of globally practiced conceptual art.
In 2008, Ai Weiwei was invited by the Shanghai City Council to construct a very large studio. But upon its completion, the authorities had it instantaneously demolished within a single day, since the artist had dared to criticize the government. But Ai Weiwei created a work of art from his studio’s wreckage entitled “Souvenir from Shanghai” (2012).
In the large Lichthof of the Gropiusbau, the artist has assembled 6,000 simple wooden stools (Stools, 2014) of the type that have been used in the Chinese countryside for hundreds of years, since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The result is an aesthetically pleasing, pixel-like work. These stools, according to Ai Weiwei, are an expression of the centuries-old aesthetic of rural China.
Ai Weiwei is promoting a dialogue with western audiences about China. His revolutionary use of conceptual art began in 1993, after he left New York to return to China, a country which only allowed its artists to use certain forms of expression. After all, whoever controls the form also controls the content. Ai Weiwei resisted this control, creating his own discourse on free speech and freedom to publish. The artists he most admires include Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Giorgio Morandi.
But Ai also sees himself in the tradition of the Chan (Zen) philosopher Hui Neng (638-713), whom he regards as the radical champion of unlimited expression, a man who rebelled against the Confucian-Buddhist orthodoxy of his time. During the Cultural Revolution (c. 1969), the Red Guards destroyed Hui‘s temple in southern China. His worship however, has since been resumed.
A comprehensive catalogue provides extensive background information on the exhibition with articles by Uta Rahman-Steinert on Ai Weiwei’s treatment of tradition; Wulf Herzogenrath on the artist’s various approaches to his art; Klaus Ruitenbeek on the Chinese element in the work of Ai Weiwei and by Thomas W. Eller on the material rhetoric of aesthetic resistance.

You may visit Ai Weiwei' exhibition news German Pavilion Bang Installation at Venice Bienalle 2013 to click below link.

6000 wooden stools from Qing Dynasty (1644-1911),
dimensions variable © Ai Weiwei 

Stools features over 6,000 wooden stools from Ming and Qing dynasties and the republican period, gathered from villages across northern China. They are a basic staple in many Chinese households. Each stool reveals traces of regular use, with a simple design and a solid structure that speak to a design language that remains unchanged for hundreds of years.The work forms a surface by connecting individual stools, covering the tile floor of Martin Gropius-Bau’s atrium. It harkens back to Soft Ground, 2009, an exact replication in carpet of the travertine floor at Munich’s Haus der Kunst.


150 bicycles, dimensions variable
© Ai Weiwei

150 bicycles, dimensions variable
© Ai Weiwei

Made from 150 bicycles, Ai Weiwei used one of China’s most ubiquitous brands, “Forever”, to commemorate a young Beijing resident, Yang Jia. Yang’s murder trial was a national sensation in China. He was illegally arrested for allegedly riding an unlicensed bicycle rental, and was violently assaulted during the detention. After unsuccessful attempts in appealing for justice, he was accused of murdering 6 Shanghai police officers. Following a series of unfair judicial projected, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

150 bicycles, dimensions variable
© Ai Weiwei

150 bicycles, dimensions variable
© Ai Weiwei


The architects Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden originally built the house in the Renaissance style as an arts and crafts museum. It was ceremoniously opened in 1881. The Museum of Prehistory and Early History and the East Asian Art Collection moved into the building after the First World War, while the arts and crafts collection was transferred to the City Palace (Stadtschloss). The building was severely damaged in 1945 during the last weeks of World War II. It wasn’t until 1966 that it was classified as a historical monument. Reconstruction began in 1978 under the direction of the architects Winnetou Kampmann and Ute Weström. The house was named after Martin Gropius, a great uncle of Walter Gropius, who had strongly urged that the museum should be rebuilt.
Since its meticulous restoration in the 1970s the Martin-Gropius-Bau has become one of the most famous and most beautiful exhibition halls in Germany. Many international exhibitions have since found a fitting venue there. Many millions of visitors have seen the exhibitions in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. The house was further restored in 1999/2000 with funding from the federal government. Air-conditioning was installed and the north entrance was redesigned as the main entrance. The architectural office of Hilmer & Sattler & Albrecht was in charge of the reconstruction.



Vases from the Han Dynasty (202 b. C. – 220 A. D.) and auto paint
© Ai Weiwei. Foto © Mathias Völzke

From the Colored Vases series, Ai covers 8 Neolithic vases in metallic auto paint. Their smooth, even, and pristinely reflective surfaces obscure the luster and texture of the ancient vases below. Solid colors from the standard palette used on Mercedes-Benz and BMW automobiles, and the conspicuous consumption and desire for power that they symbolize in Chinese markets, create an interesting contrast with the form of the ancient vases. The addition of surface paint both disrupts and preserves the original, and asks us to consider how we determine the real significance of history and civilization. Out of context each vase is no longer recognizable as an ancient artifact, yet beneath the thin outer layer the history and complexity of the original remain intact.


HE XIE 2013

FORGE 2008 – 2012

© Ai Weiwei. Foto © Mathias Völzke

Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted the twelve bronze animal heads representing the Chinese zodiac that once stood in the gardens of the Yuanming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness, Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat in Beijing. Designed in 1700 by two European Jesuits, the zodiac heads originally functioned as a water clock fountain in Haiyan Tang. In 1860, the palace was ransacked by French and British troops and the statues were looted together with many other items. Only seven of the twelve figures have been traced today; they were all repatriated to China. The work addresses the debates of patriotism that follow questions of looting and repatriation, while continuing Ai’s ongoing exploration of the authenticity of Chinese contemporary history and the value of artworks.

MASK 2013

Known as Diaoyu Islands in Chinese and the Senkaku Islands in Japanese, this small archipelago is the backdrop for an intense ongoing territorial dispute that has stirred patriotic fervor in both countries. The carved marble work conceptualizes the geopolitical debate into a cartoonish physical presence and presents it as a topographical sculpture of the various islands of Diaoyu at reduced scale. The monumentality of the installation continues Ai’s experimentations with scale, materials, and transforming reality into tangible experiences.

© Ai Weiwei. Foto © Mathias Völzke

Concrete and brick rubble from Ai Weiwei’s destroyed Shanghai Studio,
 rosewood bedframe from Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
380 × 170 × 260 cm
© Ai Weiwei. Foto © Mathias Völzke

Early in 2008, Ai Weiwei was invited by district authorities in Shanghai to build a studio in Malu Town, Jiading District. As soon as construction finished in 2010, he was informed that the building would be destroyed, a chastening for his increasingly outspoken criticism of the government. In response, he announced a river crab feast at the studio space over the Internet, inviting the public to attend. The police placed him under house arrest in Beijing to prevent his attendance to the feast, but over a thousand people from across the world turned out in support. In mid-January 2011, demolition of the building started without warning. The work Souvenir from Shanghai is made from material from the site.

Ai Weiwei was born on August 18, 1957 as the son of Gao Ying and the Chinese poet and dissident Ai Qing (1910-1996). In that same year, as part of the government compaign against so called ‘’rightists’’, Ai Qing was banished to the province of Xinjiang in the nortwest of China. Ai Weiwei grew up there until his father was rehabilitated by the government and the family returned to Beijing in 1976.
In 1978 Ai Weiwei registered as a student at the film Academy in Beijing, where he studied under  the Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, et al. The same year he became a founding member of the avant-garde artist’ group Stars, which refused to make Chinese art according to state guidelines. The group’s exhibition at the National Art Museum in Beijing was received with overwhelming interest from visitors.
From 1981 to 1993 Ai lived in the USA, primarily in New York City, where he studied for some time at the Parsons School of Design. During this time he immersed himself in photography, performance, conceptual art, and Dadaism in particular, and became acquainted with Allen insberg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. It was Marcel Duchamp, however, who became the most formative influence on his work.
In 1993 Ai returned to Beijing because of his father’s ill health. In addition to his work as an artist, he developed into one of the organizers of the oppositional Chinese art scene. In 1994 he was a founding member and artistic director of the gallery China Art Archives & Warehouse for experimental art in Beijing. His publications (Black Cover Book, 1995; White Cover Book,1995; Grey Cover Book, 1997) constitute appeals for a new, radical, and politically engaged art.
In 2000 he and the influential curator and art critic Feng Bayi cocurated the exhibition Fuck Off in Shanghai, which positioned itself as a critical alternative to the 3rd Shanghai Biennale.
In 1999 Ai decided to build his own studio in Caoshangdi, which is in the northeast of Beijing. This marked the beginning of his work as an architect. Amongst other things, he curated the Jinhua Architecture Art Park project in 2002, for which 16 architects from all over the world designed buildings. His father was born in Jinhua, and the park was constructed in his memory. In 2003 Ai founded his own architectural studio, FAKE Design, in Beijing. From 2003 to 2008 he acted as artistic consultant to the architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, which he later criticized harshly for its megalomania. It was also in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron that Ai curated the architectural project Ordos 100.
Uncompleted to date, this consists of a residential complex of 100 buildings, designed by 100 architects from all four corners of the globe, to be built near the city of Ordos in inner Mongolia.
He was –and continues to be-subjected to regular reprisals by the Chinese authorities and the police as a result of his political and social activism. In early August 2009 Ai suffered injuries that caused a celebral hemorrhage during a police operation in connection with his research into the earthquake in Sichuan.
In the fall of 2010 the municipal administration of Shanghai ordered that he vacote the big studio that he had built at the city’s invitation. When Ai Weiwei reacted by announcing a celebration to draw the public’s attention to the planned eviction, on November 5, 2010 he was placed under house arrest for two days. In early December 2010 Ai was prevented from leaving the People’s Republic of China for the first time.
In April 2011 the Chinese police arrested him at the airport in Beijing without citing a charge as he prepared to travel to Hong Kong. He was incarcerated in a secret jail for 81 days, during which time he was not allowed to leave his cell. He was released only as a result of considerable international pressure. After the Chinese tax authorities surprisingly announced in early November 2011 that the artist should pay back taxes amounting to 1.7 million euros, he received a large sum in donations, some of them anonymous on most of them originating in China. The incarcerations of Ai Weiwei by the Chinese police was the sad temporary pinnacle of the artist’s battle for democracy and freedom of expression. For the TED conference in the USA that same year, Ai Weiwei disseminated a video message that showed the means with which the Chinese government attempts to monitor and intimidate the artist, his family, and his employees.
Numerous international art events have brought Ai Weiwei international fame. These include the exhibitions Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 (Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, then Asia Society and Museum, New York, and Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, and elsewhere) in 2009; So Sorry (Haus der Kunst, Munich) and Sunflower Seeds (Tate Modern, London, then Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp, Cully, and Mary Boone Gallery, New York, and further locations) in 2010; and Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (Pulitzer Fountain, New York, then Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, Los Angeles, and Somerset House, London, and further locations) in 2011; works exhibited at documenta 12 in 2007 and at the Biennale in Venice in 2013; but also his work as a curator-for example in the form of the essential exhibition Mahjong; Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection (Kunstmuseum Bern, and further locations) in 2005; and The State of Things. Brussels/Beijing ( Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and National Art Museum, Beijing) in 2009.
Ai Weiwei has become a globally acting artist who uses all means of communication and is therefore present beyond all borders through his virtuoso use of electronic media in internet projects such as #aiflowers, FakeCase.com, #aiwwLiveStream, and through his blog, through video documentation of his exhibitions, and through performances and projects including WeiWeiCam, a self-surveillance project with an uninterrupted internet live transmission from his studio and home. Worldwide recognition of Ai as a person and of his work is also manifested in numerous prizes and honors. These not only reflect recognition of his art, but also represent the high esteem in which his commitment to the furthering of human rights is held.