Ai am the Wei et la vérité et la vie - dans l'exposition d'Ai Weiwei à Istanbul.

"La vie est l'art, l'art est la vie, je ne les sépare jamais". Ai Weiwei (AWW)....et tout est politique.

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If you take the view that I do, which is that even drawing breath is a political act, then Ai Weiwei’s exhibition, in Istanbul, is a great expression of the philosophy that Art is Life and that everything in life is political.

J'ai glissé, presque littéralement, par la porte d'entrée, un jour pluvieux et glissant d'Istanbul. Pour un analphabète culturel comme moi, qui ne sait normalement pas faire la différence entre Mahler et Wagner ou entre un Rembrandt et un Vermeer et qui pense qu'un concerto est une marque de voiture Honda, une exposition Ai Wei Wei est parfaite.

Vous n'avez pas besoin de savoir quoi que ce soit sur l'art ou sur Ai Weiwei. Il faut juste savoir quelque chose sur la vie et la politique. Tout le reste est expliqué.

Vases en colonnes sur fond de scènes représentant des réfugiés, des émigrants, des prisonniers et d'autres groupes similaires

L'exposition est éclectique et couvre le tremblement de terre du Sichuan, la Palestine, les tigres, les réfugiés, la liberté d'expression, la destruction de son atelier, les attitudes envers le pouvoir et l'autorité, les camps de travail chinois, les passages à tabac, les outils de l'âge de pierre, la guerre, l'iconoclasme, les natures mortes, l'art traditionnel.

Pour ceux qui n'ont pas encore visité une exposition d'Ai Weiwei, voici une visite virtuelle......

Countries as art and political statements – as you enter you are greeted  by a map of China in ceramic. It’s a form of jigsaw in a way, and it’s really reflective of the rest of the exhibition which binds together art and political statement – with interesting cultural bits of information about the use of iconography as political dissent.

Much of the exhibition utilises common place objects as a link between the everyday and the political and cultural. A coat hanger is used as the basis for a portrait and car window winders are used to demonstrate the absurdity of totalitarianism, which attempted to prevent protests from moving vehicles, while driving through Tiananmen Square, by removing all the window winders from cars.

Between 2008 and 2011 Ai Weiwei became the subject of political persecution by the Chinese Government, a process that began after his investigations of and blogging about political corruption. In this case corruption that had allowed shoddily built buildings to kill tens of thousands of people during the Sichuan earthquakes in May 2008. The dead included 5000 schoolchildren killed by poorly-built schools throughout the region. AWW named each of the dead children.

There are echoes of history in his subsequent detention. His father, the famous Chinese poet, Ai Qing, who was exiled to the Gobi Desert, said in 1946: “I believe that art and the revolution must go together; they can never be separated. We are political animals, and sometimes we write as political animals. If the revolution fails, the art will fail, but in as far as is possible the artist must be a revolutionary. As a revolutionary and as an artist he must represent his times.

A gauche : la zone du tremblement de terre, au centre : céramique recréant le reo métallique tordu des bâtiments

Ai responded to the deaths in Sichuan with a series of angry blog posts, and by the next year had set up the Citizens’ Investigation on Sichuan earthquake. The police responded by making a threatening visit Ai’s home, and a few months later, when Ai was in Sichuan to attend the trial of an earthquake activist, police broke into his hotel during the night and beat him. He was left with a cerebral hemorrhage and required emergency brain surgery.

AWW filmed part of the earthquake zone and he superimposes on the images a series of negative responses from officials that he received, when he tried to get information on the impacts of the earthquake and who was responsible.

A part of the exhibition uses the beating and the brain scans, that led to surgery, as as the basis for two ceramics using a scan of his brain.

C'est au cours de cette période qu'AWW a été arrêté, alors qu'il embarquait sur un vol à destination de Taïwan, puis détenu pendant 81 jours. Par la suite, il s'est vu interdire tout voyage à l'étranger et le studio qu'il avait été invité à construire a été démoli par le gouvernement chinois.

In literally 24 hours, the entire building was demolished, razed to the ground and the rubble trucked away so that not one shred of evidence of the buildings existence remains – a sort of instant re-writing of history (at left, below, the building before demolition and then the paddock shown after the building’s removal at right, below). AWW documents the process in a video.

 

From here the exhibition moves on to document a series of images of AWW’s response to authority, in a very simply and symbolic series of images of iconic buildings which in some form or other represent wealth, power or images of a society’s culture…such as, in the case of Australia the opera house. In each AWW stands with finger raised as we all wish to do to authority figures, much of the time.

Similarly he uses images, such as those of massed crabs, to document mechanisms of secret protest against authoritarian regimes. Chinese people use the word for the crabs as a synonym for censorship as it sounds similar to the Chinese word for “harmonious” and refers directly to Chinese attempts to create a harmonious society via censorship.

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Crabes en masse

Suite à l'arrestation et à la détention d'AWW, il a été assigné à résidence puis s'est vu retirer son passeport afin de ne pas pouvoir voyager à l'étranger, notamment, au début, pour l'empêcher de recevoir son prix Nobel. Sa résistance à la suppression de ses droits de voyage est documentée dans une série d'images de fleurs (peut-être en résonance avec les célèbres images de 1967 de George Harris et Jan Rose Kasmir utilisant des fleurs au visage des canons des fusils de la Garde nationale.

Jan Rose Kasmir (à gauche et au centre, photographié par Marc Riboud) et George Harris (à droite, photographié par Bernie Boston) - lors d'un rassemblement de 100 000 personnes contre la guerre du Vietnam

Pendant 600 jours, Ai Weiwei a placé des fleurs dans le panier de sa bicyclette pour protester contre la perte de son passeport. Son utilisation des fleurs comme symbole de protestation est répétée dans un certain nombre d'œuvres de l'exposition et la pièce centrale (au centre, en bas) est une pièce tapissée au mur montrant chacun des bouquets de fleurs qui ont été placés dans le panier à vélo.

The rest of the exhibition follows similar themes using a variety of artistic mechanisms to document his views on Palestine through his videos of the last tiger, starving in Palestine’s zoo following the Israeli blockade (the tiger was later saved), and documenting the treatment of refugees and other groups around the world (bottom images).

 

Toutes ces images sur Flickr ici

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