When his passport was returned after years of arrests, detentions, harassment and surveillance in China, the first places Ai Weiwei went were at the chaotic crossroads of the global refugee crisis.
The artist and activist has spent the last several years with migrants, trying to tell their stories and to mobilize the world to help them. Ai believes in art’s ability to shape the world and change the tide of history.
“If art can change how man sees his relationship with society, then it does change society,” the Chinese dissident said in a recent email interview.
This week, Ai will speak in Aspen and Snowmass Village about his work as an artist, filmmaker and refugee advocate as Anderson Ranch honors him with its International Artist Award.
The curator explains the origins of the exhibition and the thinking behind its most controversial elements. Andrew Goldstein,
When it comes to the contemporary art of Asia, with all its multifaceted history and geopolitical sprawl, there are few more accomplished curators in America than Alexandra Munroe. A native New Yorker who was partly raised in Japan and studied at a monastic compound in Kyoto, Munroe became a star after organizing “Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky” for the Yokohama Museum of Art in 1994, which later traveled to the United States and did much to frame how postwar Japanese art is viewed in the country.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave
New York, NY, NY 10128
Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World is a major exhibition of contemporary art from China spanning 1989 to 2008, arguably the most transformative period of modern Chinese and recent world history. The largest show of this subject ever mounted in North America, it offers an interpretative survey of Chinese experimental art framed by the geopolitical dynamics attending the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization, and the rise of China. The arc of this international history, beginning with the crushed utopianism of the nationwide democracy movement and culminating in the conflicted euphoria surrounding the Beijing Olympics, provides the framework for the Guggenheim’s show. Theater of the World examines how Chinese artists have been both agents and skeptics of China’s arrival as a global presence, and seeks to reposition a Sinocentric art history in a way that sees China as integral to the emergence of the global contemporary.