Mind & Matter


An Expression of Hope Amid Controversy

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Ai Wei-Wei, Cube Light. Photo: By Anna Flore, courtesy of Haus der Kunst.


On Nov. 19, Tokyo-based Misa Shin Gallery opened its inaugural exhibition with an installation called Cube Light, one of Ai Weiwei's outsized chandeliers. The Chinese artist and activist has provoked the wrath of Communist Party leaders for calling attention to hot-button issues such as the decrepit state of schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake, or the lack of freedoms for artists and writers in China. As a result, he has been detained, interrogated, and beaten—resulting in internal cranial bleeding.

Yet for all of his negative experiences and critical outlook, his new construction conveys a remarkably hopeful quality. The striking, multidimensional light box is composed of hundreds of amber-colored, prismatic glass crystals suspended within a steel grid framework, and functions as the primary light source in the space. "Life is never guaranteed to be safe so we better use it when we are still in good condition," Weiwei says. "I don't want the bad memories, bad incidents, to stop me or have an effect on me."

The Cube Light will be on display until Jan. 29, 2011.



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 6:16 PM Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    Weiwei is a inspiration for all....thanks for covering this Blaine, with China taking the international stage with its role as a world economic powerhouse it is important to expose the restrictions on such acts of expression. As the U.S. restricts freedom at home we must be vigilant in protecting the human rights of all. Thanks. Doug

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.