Today my friend L, her sister and father and I drove into the city to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the David Bowie Show and the Ai Weiwei Show. A lot to take in, in the short time we had. Considering it is the Thanksgiving weekend the gallery wasn’t too busy when we arrived at 1:30 but later in the afternoon the line-ups were quite long.
I’m going to share a few of the pieces that I saw at the Ai Weiwei show. This incredible contemporary Chinese artist produces photographs and installation art pieces that raise crucial questions about the right to express and conduct oneself freely and that feature repurposed furniture and artefacts.
One of the first pieces that you can’t help but notice is the snake like sculpture that hangs above your head as you enter the exhibition. It is made from 800 backpacks, commonly used by students in China, to represent the souls of the many children who died in 2008 during the Sichuan earthquake.
As you pass the through the hallway of floor to ceiling photographs and enter the main hall you greeted by a sculpture called “Grapes“. It consists of 40 wooden stools from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that have been reassembled in a way to transform its meaning and obscure its function. There are no nails in this piece and like the individual stools it is held together with traditional joinery techniques. The whole piece is supported by the legs of one stool.
In the same room, a series of seven chests made from huali wood are lined up across the far side of the room. Each chest has four circular openings that when aligned created the effect of showing every phase of the moon to visitors who walk through the installation. The challenge here was trying to get a shot without people passing through. The piece is called Moon Chest.
I will feature a few more pieces in future posts. In the meantime if you’re in Toronto and you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it. Hurry though, it closes October 27th.