Ai Weiwei Will Do a Show at Alcatraz


After spending 81 days in a Chinese prison back in 2011, it would make sense if artist Ai Weiwei didn’t want to so much as step into an elevator, much less another prison. But Ai seems more determined than ever to explore the concept, and has thus decided to hold his next show at Alcatraz. According to the New York Times, Ai has teamed up with Cheryl Haines of the public-art nonprofit For-Site for a new project on the onetime maximum-security prison.

Specifics about which pieces Ai will show are still being worked out, but the Times explains that since a recent show in Venice dealt with the artist’s own detainment in China (via six dioramas, no less), he'll focus instead on what Haines calls the most basic human rights, “like freedom of expression and its importance in building a culture.” “We’re also hoping to address parallels between forms of imprisonment and governments that use restrictions in communications to control people,” she added.

Ai said he decided to do the project because “I have too many friends today who are still in jail. The fact that people who are fighting for freedom have lost their freedom being incarcerated is more than ironic.” Still more ironic is the fact that the artist himself is under a form of house arrest in China and likely won’t be able to visit the site before the show is scheduled to open on September 27, 2014. “I would love to regain my rights to travel before that,” he said, “but I have no idea if it’s possible.”