Ai Weiwei: @Large on Alcatraz

Ai Weiwei: @Large on Alcatraz

The Chinese artist turned an ex-high security prison into a Lego hall of fame for political activists Alcatraz is a place with a dark history. Some of America’s most notorious criminals, including crime boss Al Capone, did time there. Today, the legendary high security prison, located on an island in the San Francisco Bay is open … Continue reading Ai Weiwei: @Large on Alcatraz

3 June 2015  // 


The Chinese artist turned an ex-high security prison into a Lego hall of fame for political activists

Alcatraz is a place with a dark history. Some of America’s most notorious criminals, including crime boss Al Capone, did time there.

Today, the legendary high security prison, located on an island in the San Francisco Bay is open to the public, and it provided a suitable setting for an exhibition by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

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Ai Weiwei, Refraction, 2014 (installation view, New Industries Building, Alcatraz). Photo: Jan Stürmann, courtesy FOR-SITE Foundation

An outspoken critic of his government, Ai Weiwei champions freedom of speech and human rights. Because of his activism, his passport was confiscated, meaning he could not leave China to attend the installation for @Large. He was also detained in prison for 81 days in 2011.

Lego portraits of political prisoners from around the world, dragons and even the penitentiary’s toilets all feature in this impressive Alcatraz exhibition.

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Ai Weiwei, Trace, 2014 (installation view, New Industries Building, Alcatraz). Photo: Jan Stürmann, courtesy FOR-SITE Foundation

How would you voice opposition to your government?

Video courtesy student literacy group, ForWords and Alejandro Palacios

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz ran from September 2014 – April 2015 at Alcatraz Island and was supported by the FOR-SITE Foundation

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