….I’m not kidding.
I’ve never wanted to visit Alcatraz. I don’t understand the appeal. The Art Caravan pulled into San Francisco last week, and was offered the opportunity to tour Alcatraz. Thank goodness a friend mentioned the art show at Alcatraz or I probably wouldn’t have gone.
What a loss that would have been. To put it plainly, this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. Ever. Really.
The art show is actually a series of installations by the contemporary Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. He is considered to be as much activist, as well as artist.
There are seven different installations. Weiwei deals with the ideas of confinement, repression, and suppression. He uses a variety of materials: sound, porcelain, recycled metals and playthings (Lego, and kites.)
He has been critical of his government, and is currently unable to leave China. His re-purposing of the different spaces in the prison is most remarkable, when one considers he was not able to visit Alcatraz.
The artwork is very site specific. His use of individual cell blocks as ‘sound booths’ for broadcasting was extremely moving. One cell was filled with classical music written by the Czech/Jewish composer, Haas, while interred at Terezin concentration camp. Each cell had a different musician, poet or speaker.
Interior of a cell
View from inside the cell
Row of cell blocks
I wasn’t actually able to enter the psychiatric holding cells, The sound and space were too powerful for me.
Hallway to the psych cells
Individual psych cell–peering in
The last installation I saw was remarkable. It is composed of recycled metal, including solar panels. It is like a giant winged creature, contained in a space. One views is from a narrow, poorly lit corridor.
Ai Weiwei, Alcatraz installation
@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz is on view until April 26, 2015.