Ways Beyond Art

19 May 2009 to 18 Jul 2009

Ai Weiwei describes himself as a frustrated poet. However, the way in which he articulates space, the radical nature of his installations, and the forceful provocation of his arguments provide his work with the spirit of a poem. It is no coincidence that poetry was an indelible presence throughout his childhood and youth. His father, Ai Qing, was one of the most important literary voices in China during the second half of the 20th century. He was a poet who was forbidden to write during 22 years of forced exile, which he spent in a labour camp in the arid regions of western China, cleaning latrines, day after day. Ai Weiwei says that he never heard his father complain or criticise.

Ai Weiwei’s silence is equally expressive and, to a certain extent, echoes the emptiness of his spaces, spaces full of content, silence full of expressiveness. He bases himself more on what he does not say and plays with emptiness to create meaningful spaces.

Devastating life experiences, such as the deportation of his family, have not been enough to silence a voice that is never afraid to express a direct critical opinion of certain political positions. Ai Weiwei has this same attitude towards artistic creation, which owes nothing to any style, market or group in particular.

Images: © Nigel Young. Courtesy Ivorypress