Archive for the ‘human rights’ tag

Ai on Alcatraz: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Akcatraz

From a hill in San Francisco, Alcatraz doesn’t look like a cerebral place. The famed, now-defunct prison blends seamlessly into the tan rock bobbing in the middle of the Bay and gives off a faint aura of mob-era menace and Nicholas Cage’s glory days. In a city filled with ever-evolving street art, a vibrant contemporary gallery scene and internationally renowned museums, one of the last places you would look for a groundbreaking art show would be in the middle of the water.

And yet, the confluence of Alcatraz’s history, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and San Francisco’s own FOR-SITE Foundation seemed to be a perfect mix. When Cheryl Haines, the Executive Director of FOR-SITE Foundation, approached the artist with the idea for the show, Ai was restricted from leaving China since his passport was revoked in 2011. His work, specifically created for exhibit within the famed prison, was developed in his Beijing studio using spatial plans provided to him from the FOR-SITE Foundation staff and then recreated remotely in California using the artist’s exacting directions.

Ai is an ideal artist to feature in a place like Alcatraz, and FOR-SITE is theoretically an ideal group to help make that show a reality. FOR-SITE describes itself as dedicated “to the creation, understanding and presentation of art about place,” and ideally used their resources to marry the work of an artist particularly concerned with social justice and human rights with a location particularly rich in matters of justice and activism. Four rooms in the prison are dedicated to exhibits; one large gallery spread with LEGO portraits of significant human rights activists was particularly moving.  The exhibit, titled ‘@Large’, is open through April 26, 2015.

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Written by Caitlin Buggy
Caitlin Buggy

December 2nd, 2014 at 9:27 am