We did our first staycation in Washington D.C. when Lucas was two and Penny just a babe. Over the years we’ve continued this indulgent tradition, being tourists in our own city. Ai Weiwei has spent nearly four decades exploring the relationships between art, society, and individual experience. His work, as prolific as it is eclectic, encompasses a wide range of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, film, painting, and architecture. Ai Weiwei has sought to incite change through his art since the late 1970s, and as his work has developed, he has become increasingly committed to his guiding principle of promoting human rights and freedom of expression for all. A collaborative artist project, Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn features the East Coast debut of the monumental installation Trace, which portrays individuals from around the world whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech. Each of these 176 portraits comprises thousands of plastic LEGO® bricks, assembled by hand and laid out on the floor. To complement the display of Trace at the Hirshhorn, Ai Weiwei has created a new 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the repeating graphic pattern looks merely decorative, but a closer inspection reveals surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos, which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority. The “Grass Mud Horse,” or caonima, is a Chinese internet meme that resembles an alpaca and is a popular symbol of defiance against censorship in China.Each image is pixelated, resembling surveillance or photos found on the internet. The graphic manipulation can symbolize the dissolving nature of the individual, or may suggest that each person has been encoded as a form of digital data. The colors in each portrait roughly represent the colors of the subject’s national flags. – Text adapted from hirshhorn.si.edu
Beautiful photos! Happy New Year!
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Thank you! Happy New Year to you!