“Ai Weiwei: According to What?”

, Cube Light, 2008. Photo: Cathy Carver.

“Cube Light” has made it’s debut in at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, along with collection of Ai Weiwei most famous works in the retrospective “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”. Although one of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, Weiwei is best known in the world of architecture for his work with Herzog & de Meuron on Beijing’s famous “Bird’s Nest” and, most recently, the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion.

More images and information after the break…

“Ai Weiwei: According to What?” occupies the full circuit of the second-level galleries and spaces on the third level. “Cube Light” (2008), a seminal work in the artist’s chandelier series and a major acquisition by the Hirshhorn, occupies an entire gallery. Nearly 14 feet on each side, the piece both echoes and plays with the minimalist form established by artists such as Donald Judd. At the same time, Ai cites the example of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1928 film October, in which a chandelier, shaking during the storming of the Winter Palace, represents the instability of a government on the brink of collapse.

From left to right: Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Stadium, 2005-08; Divina Proportione, 2006; F-Size, 2011. Photo: Cathy Carver.

“Ai Weiwei: According to What?” will travel to four venues in the U.S. and Canada, but only at the Hirshhorn will the exhibition be accompanied by “Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” a monumental 12-part sculptural suite by the artist. Installed around the perimeter of the fountain on the museum’s plaza.

Since 2009 Ai has become increasingly known for his outspoken political activism, which takes numerous forms and resulted in his detention in 2011 for 81 days by Chinese authorities. “I’ve experienced dramatic changes in my living and working conditions over the past few years,” Ai has stated, “and this exhibition has been an opportunity to reexamine past work and communicate with audiences from afar. I see it as a stream of activities rather than a fixed entity. It is part of a continual process in self-expression.”

Ai Weiwei, second panel of the triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995/2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Ai Weiwei retrospective will remain on view until February 24th, 2013. Find more information on the Hirshhorn Museum website.

Cite: "“Ai Weiwei: According to What?”" 15 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=294277>