Ai Weiwei 360


If you weren’t able to view Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy last year. Here is an opportunity to follow the exhibition virtually…

Ai Weiwei

372, 813 people visited the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal academy between September and December of 2015.  It was a much publicised event and highly controversial as Ai Weiwei’s active, political viewpoints of China have often gotten him into hot water. At the time there was suggestion that Ai Weiwei may not have been able to view his own exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Weiwei was brought up in a work camp.  His family were incarcerated along with his father, the poet Ai Qing. On account of governmental fears of, ‘rightists‘.  Individuals who were known to be critical of the left, many of whom were intellectuals. The Chairman Mao Zedong instigated the persecution of over 550,00 individuals between 1957 -1959.  Ai Weiwei’s family remained under arrest for 20 years.

Not everyone in China had a toilet so it was the job of Ai Weiwei’s father to clean the public toilets…which are also areas where people gather to wash.  Not to be beaten his father took great pride in making sure his toilets were the cleanest.  Which seems to be the family spirit. Give the Weiwei’s an obstacle and they will overcome it.  And what a will that is.

Weiwei’s had his own fair share of troubles with the Chinese Government, having being incarcerated and unable to leave China after being released.  However he seems to turn bad experience on it’s head, by creating art about it.  From the artist who gave us Sunflower Seeds at the Tate in 2011 to the same artist that has parked a car outside the Royal Academy and asked people to place unwanted Lego inside the car.  He’s a hard working, unstoppable force and highly controversial.

The curation of the exhibition was coordinated between Tim Marlow (Artistic Director of the Royal Academy) and Adrian Lock (Senior Curator of the Royal Academy).  Who worked closely with Weiwei virtually,  as he was not able to leave China.  In a way this virtual opportunity to experience the exhibition completes the action, appropriately named Ai Weiwei 360. It gives those of us a chance to view his exhibition who were unable to attend.

Ai Weiwei 360 is a commission by The Space in partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts, produced by AVM and promoted/published on BBC Taster. With contributions from Ai Weiwei, Tim Marlow (Artistic Director, Royal Academy of Arts), Adrian Locke (Senior Curator, Royal Academy of Arts), Julian Assange (WikiLeaks) and a voice-over by Jon Snow (Channel 4 News). Ai Weiwei 360 contains excerpts from the official Royal Academy of Arts Ai Weiwei audio tour produced by Antenna International.

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director at the Royal Academy of Arts, said:

“Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy of Arts was a landmark exhibition in every sense: 372,813 people visited during 86 days to experience an exhibition that was intensely powerful and moving. Its installation in the great Beaux-arts spaces of the RA will live long in the memory of all who saw it. And now, thanks to a collaboration with The Space, the experience of this exhibition will live on in this innovative project.”

Fiona Morris, Creative Director and CEO of The Space said:

“There is huge potential in bringing together the arts and technology to reach wider audiences. It’s the role of The Space to help turn that potential into real projects for audiences, artists and cultural organisations. We’re delighted to work with Ai Weiwei and the Royal Academy of Arts in partnership to extend this fantastic exhibition, so that more people can experience and enjoy it for longer, using the latest in digital innovation.”

The virtual reality experience is downloadable from the Samsung store and Google Play for use on Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard respectively. 

Do follow the link.

Written by Becky Blackhurst (10th March 2016)