Ai Weiwei. So Sorry

Exhibition 12.10.09 – 17.01.10

"Liberty is about our rights to question everything." (Ai Weiwei)
Ai Weiwei (*1957) is regarded as one of the most important contemporary artists in China. His project "Fairytale" was a highlight at the 2007 documenta in Kassel and brought him international fame: For "Fairytale" he flew in 1001 Chinese; they became part of the exhibition and their experiences part of the art. It was the largest project ever created for the documenta. Together with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, Ai Weiwei conceived of the national stadium for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 – the so-called "Bird’s Nest" is already considered a landmark of the Chinese capital.

For the production of his artworks Ai Weiwei often acquires objects such as Chinese antiquities, ancient trees and tree roots, or spiritual artefacts that he subsequently transforms. Whether he covers antique earthenware with industrial paints, converts centuries old temple beams into wooden maps, or drops Han Dynasty urns onto flagstones: Ai Weiwei creates new connections and through his works pointedly questions how old and new can coexist, what the new quality of tradition could look like, how does China relate to itself: "For something existing to develop into a new direction is not only interesting but necessary".

Besides several familiar works in different media, Ai Weiwei also shows two new works in "So Sorry" that were produced especially for the Haus der Kunst. "Remembering", for example, a work for the Haus der Kunst’s façade, is Ai Weiwei’s memorial to the earthquake that took place in the Chinese province of Sichuan in 2008. The installation consists of 9,000 backpacks in five different colours that make up the sentence "For seven years she lived happily on this earth" in Chinese lettering – a sentence with which a mother of one of the earthquake victims commemorated her daughter.

Ai Weiwei severely criticises China’s political leadership and demands an end to censorship. In August he was briefly arrested because of his political activities. His internet blog, where he also published the names of the Sichuan victims, amongst which were 5,000 school children, has been shut down several times. Upon the Haus der Kunst’s invitation, Ai Weiwei writes in the exhibition’s blog in English for the first time.
Ai Weiwei arrested, 04/11
On the Occasion of Ai Weiwei – Panel in the Haus der Kunst, 07/11

Exhibition "So Sorry"
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Franz West, Ion, 2010
Performed by Ivo Dimchev
Photo © Hugo Glendinning

Stretch your view

Stretch your view

Web 2.0

The exhibition "So Sorry" by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was accompanied by a blog that contained images, texts, and videos about the exhibition's four-week installation, and its extensive public program. It also ran entries dealing with the artist's violent arrest in China, his ensuing health problems, and his emergency operation in Munich – all documented by Ai Weiwei as a sign of his artistic freedom. MORE


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