This is how you’re welcomed into Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at Helsinki Art Museum. A powerful statement defying official and government institutions, as well as tourist attractions & stereotypes. Here are 3 of Finland’s: the majestic white church, the parliament building and the popular Viking Line, a major tourist hub.
Going further than the typical exhibition setting, the wallpaper itself is a work of art made out of Chinese IOUs. Empty frames “place” the wallpaper for the viewers’ interpretation. Two of the works were especially impressive to me: Travelling Light – a standing chandelier equipped with wheels and a handle and Tree – a magical organic installation that transmitted both death and life, while one could expect it to move at any point. Through is one of the works that take a political stand with the harsh wood structures violently going through beautiful Chinese dynasty antique tables. Moving inside Through is difficult because of the wood trunks’ net on different heights and levels, implying the idea of being caught in a stiff and bureaucratic system. The entire exhibition plays with your own body mass vis-a-vis the works: I’ve felt like Alice in Wonderland – at times small and at times giant in a Lilliputian village. Could it be the powerful / powerless positions we have in our social and political roles?
Same as the rest of Ai’s work, the exhibition is courageous, powerful and meaningful. Artists might not be in the official position to change the status quo of things, but they can showcase what is wrong, they can empower others to take a stand, they OPEN OUR EYES. Exhibition is open until 28.2.2016 at HAM.
Ai Weiwei defends freedom of speech and expression and is one of the worlds’s most influential contemporary artists.
Tree and Travelling Light
Inside Travelling Light