In 2012, ArtReview magazine named Ai Weiwei the most powerful artist in the world. So, when the chance arose for me to witness the artwork firsthand at his first Canadian exhibit at The Art Gallery Of Ontario, I was thrilled.
If you haven’t heard of him before, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei tests boundaries with his artwork and creates pieces unlike anything the world has ever seen. Arrested, jailed, and harassed by the Chinese government, he tests the boundaries of the Chinese regime. His sculptural works often use reclaimed materials, including ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples. He then marries them to an with contemporary social concerns. His work employs sarcasm, strong juxtapositions, and repetitions.
According To What at the AGO
One piece in particular which I had long waited to see was entitled, Snake. The descriptor read:
On May 12, 2008 a massive earthquake in China’s Sichuan province killed approximately 90,000 people. Ai WeiWei created a serpentine sculpture, made of about 800 backpacks to commemorate the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who were killed when their poorly constructed schools collapsed. Government officials refused to release the number of deaths or acknowledge any accountability. In 2009, Ai WeiWei launched a citizen investigation to ensure that neither the children nor the devastation would be forgotten.
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Snake by Ai WeiWei