On 13 October 2012, Mary Boone Gallery will open at both its Fifth Avenue and Chelsea
locations Forge, an exhibition of recent works by eminent international artist and human
rights activist AI WEIWEI.
A magnitude eight earthquake occurred in Sichuan, China, on 12 May 2008. In December
that year, Ai Weiwei Studio began a “citizens’ investigation” on behalf of the student
victims of the disaster. The surveyors collected the names of 5,196 children, along with
their birth dates and the school they attended. This investigation revealed that the
collapse of the schools was due to construction utilizing poor quality materials, a factor
which the Chinese government subsequently tried to cover up.
The exhibition in the Chelsea space is an installation derived from twisted steel rebar from
the schools that collapsed during the earthquake. A documentary film about the making of
the installation will also be shown. Mounted on the wall will be a photographic installation
which mirrors what is being exhibited on the ground.
In early 2008, Ai Weiwei was invited to construct a studio in a new development in Jiading
District of Shanghai, China. Construction of the studio began in July 2009 and finished in
October 2010. Almost immediately following the completion of the project, the local
government declared that the construction was illegal and that the building would be
demolished. As a reaction to the government's decree, through Twitter Ai Weiwei invited
supporters to rally at his Shanghai studio for a feast of 10,000 river crabs. Ai Weiwei
himself was placed under house arrest and not permitted to attend. On 11 January 2011,
Ai Weiwei's Shanghai Studio was demolished.
The exhibition in the Fifth Avenue space is an installation of 2,500 hand-made porcelain
river crabs titled He Xie. In Chinese the word for river crab "he xie" sounds similar to the
word "harmony", a euphemism for the Chinese government's censorship, especially of the
Internet. In the same room, a documentary film about the Shanghai Studio will be shown
along with photos of the before and after of its demolition.
The exhibition is on view at both Gallery locations through 21 December 2012.
The Mary Boone Gallery exhibition coincides with Ai Weiwei: According to What?, a major
survey of the Artist’s work at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington,