Ai Weiwei used 1.2 million LEGO bricks to create intricate portraits of prisoners of conscience for @Large, his new exhibition held in partnership with the FOR-SITE Foundation on the island of Alcatraz. The LEGO portraits, titled Trace, engages with the former prison’s history while raising questions about freedom of expression and human rights.
Ai Weiwei’s passport has been confiscated, so he can’t see his Alcatraz exhibition himself. But he managed a cameo on CCTV last month.
Now you see him… Take a close look at each of these pictures and see if you can spot the Invisible Man. Chinese artist Liu Bolin vanishes into his work (by carefully painting his body for hours before each shot), to speak for those rendered invisible by Chinese culture. He says, “If an artwork is to touch someone, it must be the result of not only technique, but also the artist’s thinking and struggles in life.”
See more of Liu’s work at China Digital Times.
Xu Bing’s Phoenix at St. John the Divine
For the duration of 2014, the artist Xu Bing’s Phoenix—a pair of majestic, glittering sculptures made of refuse and debris—can be viewed at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. “My Phoenix uses the lowliest materials of labor to adorn itself with beauty and self-respect,” Xu says.
Before coming to St. John the Divine, the work has been displayed in venues such as the Today Art Museum in Beijing and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (@massmoca). Soaring amongst the carved wood and stained glass of the cathedral, the sculptures take on a sacred quality. “It creates a unique visual and spiritual landscape for the public,” Xu says, “a landscape that I believe is capable of transporting us to an entirely new place. The splendor that underlies the phoenixes and the splendor that underlies the cathedral shine off of one another, creating a space of massive tension that moves every one of us.”
Read more about Xu Bing from China Digital Times.
In her remarkable new pop-up book, visual artist Colette Fu re-imagines the vibrant cultures of ethnic minorities in China’s Yunnan Province.
Read the full story here.
Read more of Colette Fu’s thoughts on being a “paper engineer” from China Digital Times.
Reopening an Abandoned Glass Factory for the Shenzhen Biennale
This week’s Art Thursday takes us to a port city in southern China and a hill of shipping containers. The fifth Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (深港城市\建筑双城双年展) opened last month with simultaneous shows in the cities of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. For the Shenzhen show in Guangdong province, the event has transformed abandoned factories into exhibitions with spiraling staircases and viewing platforms.
One of the exhibition venues at the biennale is the Value Factory—a giant, derelict glass factory with 43,000 square meters of floor area. Until 2009, the space was the production hall for the Guangdong Float Glass company, but it is now an open exhibition space producing ideas and inspiration with an elevated walkway and glowing handrails. The rest of the factory is home to exhibition spaces for the next three months with shows from cultural institutions across the globe including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (@vamuseum) and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (@themuseumofmodernart).
Visit China Digital Times on Instagram.
Photoquai 2013: Qingjun Huang, Family Stuff
Photographer Huang Qingjun has spent almost ten years creating portraits of Chinese people with all their belongings arrayed in front of their homes. The collections of seemingly mundane objects offer some insight into what China’s economic growth has meant for each household. Read more about Huang’s project.