Posts tagged with "Ai Weiwei":

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Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei To Reunite at London’s Serpentine

  Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Wei Wei are getting the band back together for a brief collaboration for the famed Serpentine Gallery 2012 Pavilion. Now in its twelfth iteration, the Serpentine has commissioned temporary structures by some of the world's leading architects, including Toyo Ito, Peter Zumthor, and Zaha Hadid. The Swiss architects and the Chinese artist/designer have previously collaborated on the so-called Bird's Nest Olympic staduim in Beijing. While that project emphasized both strength and fagility with a soaring tangle of intersecting structure, their proposal for the Serpentine will explore the subterranean history and ecology of the site.   “Our path to an alternative solution involves digging down some five feet into the soil of the park until we reach the groundwater. There we dig a waterhole, a kind of well, to collect all of the London rain that falls in the area of the Pavilion. In that way we incorporate an otherwise invisible aspect of reality in the park – the water under the ground – into our Pavilion," the design team said in a statement. "As we dig down into the earth we encounter a diversity of constructed realities such as telephone cables and former foundations. Like a team of archaeologists, we identify these physical fragments as remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011." The pavilion will open in June and programming will run through October.  
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Port Authority Tower Felled at Last

After the New York Times’s Charles Bagli broke the story on Tuesday that Vornado was no longer moving forward with plans to build the Richard Rogers-designed tower atop the Port Authority Bus Terminal, reporters descended on the Port's board meeting on Wednesday. A transcript of the Q&A provided by the Port Authority reveals that while Vornado may be out of the picture, the Port hasn't entirely dropped tower development from its list of possibilities, it's just been put onto their gargantuan real-estate to-do list. Newly installed Patrick J. Foye hinted that the board was none-too-pleased with the snail like pace of development—it had been in the works for a decade. The deal fell through when Vornado's Chinese backers pulled out casting an eye beyond the West Side to the East, Park Avenue that is. "The transaction has been going on for a long period of time" Foye said in response to a question from Bloomberg's David Levitt. "Concerns have been expressed among members of the board of commissioners in prior meetings about the approach that the Authority is taking. I think those issues need to be aired and discussed in full and the Port Authority’s real estate options with respect to that asset and others need to be explored in depth and we are committed to doing that." This prompted vice-chair Scott Recheir to interject that the bus terminal is just one part of  "reviewing every capital project and prioritizing the ones that best meet the mission of the Port and how we are going to finance it." Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in the Bagli piece was the shifting of $600 million from the Bus Terminal project to Vornado's Park Avenue Plaza by SOHO China, prominent Beijing developer couple Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin. With all eyes on the West Side, from Hudson Yards to Manhattan West, Park Avenue is getting a bit of a dowdy rep.  At least that's what New York Real Estate Board chair Mary Ann Tighe warned of at Tuesday's Zoning the City conference. "In the fullness of time we might find these areas of orphans," she said. With SOHO in the hood, that doesn't seem likely. A new book by Jianying ZhaTide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China, firmly places the couple at the center of China's new elite.  A review from The New York Review of Books notes that Zhang is not risk averse in more ways than one. She hired artist Ai Weiwei after one of his many releases from prison to oversee installations at one of the company's huge projects.  Zha writes that WeiWei's "reputation as an inveterate troublemaker may have scared off most developers, but Zhang gave him a budget and promised him total freedom." It would seem the Port Authority's loss may end up being Park Avenue's gain.
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HIGHLIGHT> Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads Pulitzer Fountain, Grand Army Plaza 60th Street & 5th Avenue New York Through July 15 Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza has been overrun with a menagerie of sorts: the installation of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. This is the first major public exhibition in America for the Chinese artist. This site specific installation is a modern reinterpretation of the 18th century Yuanming Yuan fountain-clock that featured 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac spouting water. With this project, Ai explores the “fake” in relation to the original sculptures (which were ultimately pillaged by French and British troops in 1860; five of the original heads are still missing). In this version, 12 oversized bronze animal heads ring the Pulitzer Fountain, each weighing approximately 800 pounds. While this project explores some rather esoteric themes, it is accessible and “a work that everyone can understand, including children and people who are not in the art world,” said Ai, who collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.
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(Updated!) A Call to Free Ai Weiwei, Artist, Architect, Activist

(Updated 4-6-2011) As details emerge, be sure to track the comments on this post for the latest on Ai Weiwei. We have learned that the US State Department called for his release on Monday. According to VOA News, Mark Toner, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman saud, "The detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei is inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens, including China's commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we urge the Chinese government to release him immediately." Today, the Guardian reported that Ai Weiwei is under investigation for "suspected economic crimes" according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua which has since deleted the statement.

AN also received the following note of support for Ai Weiwei from Richard Meier. Please feel free to voice your messages of support in the comments.

Ai Weiwei deserves all of our support in his efforts to communicate with the world community of architects about the conditions that currently exist in China. We all hope that his immediate release will happen quickly in response to comments from all of us that support him in his cause.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Meier

(Original Report 4-4-2011) News that Chinese artist, architect, and activist Ai Wei Wei has been detained and disappeared as of April 3, 2011 broke yesterday in the International media.  As reported by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times, and more recently today by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, his detention and police closure of his Beijing studio coincides with what is known as the "Jasmine Revolution," a protest movement in the People's Republic of China that was inspired by the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and has prompted the Communist Party’s six-week crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, with many of those detained still not released, and others, such as pro-democracy writer Liu Xianbin, sentenced to 10 years in jail for subversion.

While his arrest is not unexpected, and indeed was anticipated by Wei Wei and others in his community, it is a devastating and saddening blow that follows upon the forced demolition of his Shanghai studio in January of this year, his recent house arrest in the wake of Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize, and his beating by Chinese police in August 2009, with emergency brain surgery required.

Wei Wei, the son of revered Chinese poet Ai Qing (regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poets and himself imprisoned by the Chinese Communist Party), is internationally recognized for his cultural and architectural practice as well as his tireless activism on behalf of social justice and political reform in China.

His many projects include the Bird's Nest (2008), a landmark design for the Beijing Olympic National Stadium (together with Herzog and De Meuron); Fairytale (2007), in which he sent 1001 Chinese citizens to Kassel, Germany as a cross-cultural exchange; and the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project, which sought to uncover the names of the thousands of schoolchildren who died in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, many as a result of poor maintenance of school buildings.

His 2010 "Sunflower Seeds" exhibition, currently on display at Tate Modern, features 100 million porcelain seeds made in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen and forms a seemingly infinite landscape in the museum's Turbine Hall.  As a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the masses, the project explores the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange and, as curator Juliet Bingham has remarked, invites us to consider such questions as "What does it mean to be an individual in today's society?"

We urge the Chinese government to respect Wei Wei's health and to insure his safety, and to release him immediately.  His detainment and disappearance is a great tragedy and devastating blow to the international community.  Wei Wei is an artist that feels a great love and compassion for China and her people, and we urge the Chinese government to recognize this fact and allow him and his family the freedom if not to speak freely, then to at least leave.

We strongly encourage you to raise your voice and to contact your elected representatives, government contacts, and civic institutions, to advocate for official statements and positions on his behalf as well as all of those that have been detained these last weeks in response to the Jasmine Revolution.

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Ai Takes on Turbine Hall

The outspoken Chinese architect and artist Ai Weiwei has been selected by the Tate Modern as the 11th person to create a work for its massive Turbine Hall in London. A known figure in China and the west, Ai lived in New York for many years and attended the Parsons School of Design before going on to collaborate on projects such as the Beijing National Stadium (with Herzog & de Meuron) at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and was included in the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, where he collaborated (also with H&deM) on a sprawling installation of bamboo poles and chairs set akimbo. One of the most politically engaged architects and artists working today, Ai has often run afowl of Chinese authorities, and was recently beaten by Chengdu police for drawing attention to shoddy construction that contributed to the death of over 5,000 children in a Sichuan earthquake. He is also a compelling form-maker whose installation work often straddles the line between architecture and art, and seems to have the power to stand up to challenging spaces like the Tate’s vast South Bank space, itself of course created within the shell of an old power plant by Herzog & de Meuron. The installation is sponsored by Unilever, and will open next October.