On April 6, 2012, The Bare Square posted an article on the detainment of renown and celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. He has been detained under tax evasion charges, which he had personally admitted, and other miscellaneous “unspecified charges.” A staunch political activist against China’s authoritative approach on “protecting” human rights, Ai Weiwei has infuriated Chinese officials on more than one occasion with his blatant artistic approaches.
The Chinese government banned Ai Weiwei from leaving his homeland, but they cannot control his ingenious and heart wrenching art pieces from spreading like wildfire around the globe. His first North American exhibition, “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” is presently held on Washington state’s Hirshhorn Museum on October 7, 2012 and will run through February 24, 2013.
All of his works in the exhibition garner attention and merit. Two pieces that speak in powerful silence are Snake Ceiling, a huge snake-like sculpture made out of backpacks latched on the ceiling and He Xie, a swarm of porcelain river crabs on the floor.
The serpentine sculpture called Snake Ceiling is a painful reminder of all the backpacks students left behind as their poorly constructed government-made schools collapsed on them during the 2008 devastating and deadly Sichuan earthquake in China. Parents were left stranded and forever heartbroken as their only child was lost. They couldn’t reproduce to try to make up for their gaping loss due to China’s One-child Policy.
Sadness and masked indescribable pain are some of the emotions that soaked Ai Weiwei’s next sculpture He Xie, which centers around red and grey river crabs. Quite cleverly, Ai Weiwei utilized river crabs as his subjects because in Chinese, river crabs or “he xie,” sounds exactly like “censorship.”
Ai Weiwei might not be able to “speak” due to China’s suppressed freedom of speech but his artworks incontestably speak for themselves. Perhaps the truth will set Ai Weiwei free.