“The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.” So says the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who currently has a major exhibition on Alcatraz Island, in San Fransisco Bay.
In 2012, Ai was awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation – having been detained by the Chinese authorities for 81 days the previous year – and the works on display within the prison building all tackle themes of oppression, political dissent and personal freedom. The series of pieces include sound installations, large-scale sculptures and interactive work. Among them is Trace, a room filled with 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles, constructed entirely from Lego bricks; With Wind, a large Chinese dragon kite, carrying quotations from some of those same prisoners; and Blossom, a series of hospital ward cells with porcelain flowers filling the toilets, baths and sinks.
The exhibition, called @Large, will be on display at Alcatraz until April 26th next year. You can find out more about it at the For-Site Foundation by clicking on the images below. A video about the exhibition is at the bottom of the page.