“With Wind,” an installation at @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz – AFP Photo by Noah Berger
Let’s Not and Say We Did is a new Babes At The Museum series that reviews art exhibits without actually attending them.
Why peel off your pajamas and physically drag yourself to a museum, when our eyeballs are so tightly fastened to our multifarious display screens that a noteworthy chunk of our art consumption and critique is absorbed through some of our favorite portals like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.
In this first installment, our bodacious ink slinger Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham ”attends” the Ai Weiwei’s @Large exhibit at Alcatraz and culls some of social media’s yays, nays, and whatevs to offer a glimpse into what people —who actually attended the show — are saying about the artwork.
Ai Weiwei’s latest exhibit @Large unveiled on September 27th at the infamous island-cum-jail Alcatraz. Exploring themes of isolation and human rights, the exhibit heroicizes whistleblowers and prisoners of conscience from varying eras through, in the case of one installation, colorful Legos.
Alcatraz island, nestled in San Francisco’s bay, is an appropriate site for the display, given its politically charged history and flair for internment. Now a popular tourist attraction, it’s unlikely its federal forefathers would have anticipated its latest chrysalis as an artistic landmark.
Confined in China, Ai Weiwei has served as a conductor of sorts. Incapable of visiting the exhibit himself, the artist has had to delegate the assembly of all his installations. While the legitimacy of Ai’s work isn’t slighted by the lack of the artist’s presence, it does call into contention concepts of agency, authorship, and the rising role of virtual reality in our daily lives.
In lieu of joining the throng of tourists and loud-talking pseudo-intellectuals, (and inspired by my editor’s suggestion), I am undertaking an unusual form of review by not going. Instead, I’ve brought the best of the Internet to your front door.
Instagram is a notably nice place. It’s culture has developed, since its inception in 2010, into fitness-flexing, juice-cleansing, Soylent-friendly kind of platform. It stands to reason that its inhabitants (literally) share the love, making posts critical of @Large few and far between. Instead, #aiweiweialcatraz is brimming with potties overflowing with porcelain flowers, dragon selfies, and positive energy.
Twitter is normally a platform riddled with debate, though the linguistic limitations are such that rarely are they satisfying. I was surprised, therefore, when my attempts to tease out the saucier side turned up snake eyes. Instead celebrity endorsements and Facebook provided the ultimate anti-climax, delivering nothing but advertisement equivalents.
For all my net-tective work, I was unable to secure any negative reviews (though the night is young). Leading me, philosophy degree be damned, to draw the ad populum conclusion: the exhibition must be awesome! Exhibit runs until April 26.
#aiweiweialcatraz may be the reigning hashtag, but let me supply you with a few of my contributions to the cause:
Keep tagging ya’ll