A major new architectural project by Ai Weiwei—the first since Chinese authorities detained the internationally acclaimed artist last year—will be presented at the Architecture Center Houston from April 19 to May 25, 2012. The exhibition marks the U.S. premiere for the project, which debuted at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Bregenz, Austria this past summer.
In development for the past three years, Five Houses was created by Ai Weiwei in collaboration with Basel-based HHF architects. It is the cornerstone of a larger project, “Ai Weiwei House,” which interprets the concept of a residential building as a Gesamtkunstwerk—a complete work of art. “Ai Weiwei House” is the latest in a lineage of fully designed environments by such noted architects as Josef Hoffmann, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gerrit Rietveld. Collaborating with specialists in fields ranging from architecture to furniture design, ceramics to textile design, Ai creates the individual elements of the completely furnished “Ai Weiwei House.”
Fully integrated in thought and design, the “Ai Weiwei House” project originates in the artist’s own philosophical perspective, expressed in drawings, sculpture, objects, and architecture. In the process, Ai’s conceptual and aesthetic concerns emerge as elements of design. For him, the act of bringing together independent pieces to create a larger whole is the gesture that animates the form—the structure and its contents—and eventually turns it into a home.
The exhibit is presented in partnership with AW Asia and scheduled to coincide with the opening of the new Asia Society Texas Center, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, and concurrently, Houston Arts Alliance will exhibit Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads in Hermann Park, March 3 – June 3, 2012.
Ai Weiwei’s Five Houses Exhibit will be curated locally by Reto Geiser of MG&Co.
Reto Geiser is an architect and scholar with a focus in modern architecture and the contemporary architectural and urban discourse. He is currently the Wortham Assistant Professor at the Rice School of Architecture. Geiser's curatorial works include the exhibition "Explorations: Teaching, Design, Research," Switzerland’s official contribution to the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale. Founded in 2008 by Noëmi Mollet and Reto Geiser, MG&Co. is a collaborative practice that develops spatial strategies in a range of scales from the book to the house, exploring the boundaries of design and research.