An Expression of Hope Amid Controversy
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.