Opened yesterday at the Palazzo Strozzi the most awaited and discussed exhibition of this September: Ai Weiwei. Libero (Ai Weiwei. Free). For the first time the entire exhibition space of the building, from Strozzina to the piano nobile, the court and even the external facade are occupied by a single artist.
With installations, sculptures, photographs and videos this exhibition traces throughout his long career as an artist in a retrospective of his works of the 80s and 90s in New York City (where he discovers the masters Duchamp and Warhol) , through the beginning of 2000 and the huge works of assembling objects like bicycles and stools until the last years more provocative and politically engaged as his project on recent migration in the Mediterranean area.
Certainly we remember Ai Weiwei for his portraits of political dissidents made with Lego bricks (four of them made specifically for this exhibition with the help of students from Accademia delle Belle Arti). The biggest company of toys had in fact refused the big order of Ai Weiwei because not in line with the company policy of political neutrality. Interpreted, of course, as an act of censorship, this rejection was the subject of controversy for several months. The artist’s fans have even mobilized by sending pieces of lego so that he could complete his work. The company at the end apologized, attributing the incident to a misinterpretation of the business rules by an employee. As the artist said, the apology came still a little too late.
But Ai Weiwei is not just a symbol of activism against censorship. The greatest living Chinese artist, intellectual, attentive to detail, in the last twenty years has become voice and face of politically engaged art, not only aimed at portraying the world but rather to denounce a society more and more often made up of contradictions, social injustice, inconsistency.
An interesting exhibition, therefore, that in addition to telling the artist’s story, speaks to us and leads us to reflect on the individual’s relationship with modern society. A journey between tradition and innovation, a look, a different point of view, to the world of today and those who inhabit it.
You just have to buy a ticket.