Ai Weiwei exhibition

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Today I went to the Ai Weiwei exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts. I didn't know what to expect as I was not too familiar with his work, but have heard a lot about him and the exhibition.

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist and a political activist, which is why his work has often been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes".

Ai's visual art includes sculptural installations, woodworking, video and photography. In this exhibition there has been presented a big variety of art, but mainly we got to see his installations. I liked the majority of his work as it was well thought through and took a lot of time and effort, although there were some pieces which I also couldn't really connect with. Throughout the exhibition I have noticed his trend of relating his work to the freedom of speech, the map of China and the events happening in the country. 

One of the pieces which I really liked was the installation Straight. It was made out of the rods from houses which were destroyed in an earthquake in China. The rods formed a wave looking shape, which wasn't straight at all. For me the cracks represent the patterns formed by the earthquake and the loses of people which the country had to experience. I love this piece because it is linked to a certain event and represents it, therefore reminding the public about those people and their deaths. 

My favourite room must be the one with the Cao and the Marble Stroller. 

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I particularly liked the stroller because firstly, it deals with the idea of subversion which I came across in Fine Art, and have become really fond of. Here the stroller was made out of marble and therefore it's useless. Secondly I love this piece because of the story behind it, where Ai Weiwei was in the park with his child and saw a man taking a photo of him. When he came to the man, he found out that he was a policeman so he forced the chip out of his camera and saw loads photos of him and his child.

In this room there are also shown a surveillance and a recording cameras. Here he is trying to show that through the recording camera he is looking at the government actions and the world around him, and the surveillance cameras are watching him. 

This room is by far my favourite because it's one of those installations where once you are told the meaning behind the objects you get an absolutely different perspective at the same piece. I can really relate this to my art too, as I try and put the meaning behind my work, which at first may not be blatantly obvious.

© Alexandra Boyko, all rights reserved