To kick off my President Day’s weekend I went to see the @Large: Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz Island on Friday and I really enjoyed it plus it was a great excuse to spend the day in San Francisco lol. I went with my museum director and co worker Amy (we love seeing exhibits together) which was a great experience, and I had never heard of Ai Weiwei before. I also hadn’t been to Alcatraz Island since a elementary school filed trip and it was so much fun to reminisce on such a historic California landmark.
Ai is a Chinese artist who has been vocal about of his nation’s government, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days in 2011, and he is still not allowed to leave China.I also heard that he has cameras outside his home and is be watched all the time by the government, and secretly communicates with people through social media.Ai Weiwei’s own life experience with his own government was the inspiration for this exhibit, and it ties in perfectly with the history of Alcatraz Island. Because he can’t leave his country he wasn’t able to visit Alcatraz to plan this exhibition, he created his artwork in his studio in Beijing, with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
One problem that I had with the exhibit was that it was that the message was very strong and important but it was diluted by the fact that art pieces were so spread out I forgot what I was suppose to be looking for. The fact that we walked to almost the other side of the island by the time we got to the next piece i said “oh yea there’s more Ai weiwei art”. The exhibit description signage was way to tall and hurt my neck after awhile to read,and my boss called it “museum fatigue” lol which I felt the fatigue when we left. The interactive part of the exhibit is where you can write letters to people who are in prison for speaking against different forms of government. While we were at the table writing letters my boss counted the number for prisoners in the binder that provided which was 116 people total and only 10 women represented! (we pointed this out to exhibit workers). Overall I felt a little disconnected to certain art pieces that visitors weren’t able to get close enough to view.
My favorite part of the exhibit was the building with the kites through out the room and the pictures of people detained in prison made of Lego pieces past and present. the Ai Weiwei exhibit brings something extra to A;catraz since they opened up areas that are normally closed. It was something great to see.