ai weiwei splits an ancient temple in two for first solo exhibit in china ai weiwei splits an ancient temple in two for first solo exhibit in china
jun 16, 2015

ai weiwei splits an ancient temple in two for first solo exhibit in china

 

 

for the first time in his life, chinese artist ai weiwei shows a solo exhibition in his home country, following the development of the project from conception to realization on site. curated by cui cancan and presented by galleria continua, the exhibit is spread across the gallery’s beijing space and the adjacent tang contemporary art center, crossing the wall that divides the two rooms. the body of work conceived for the two spaces represents an ambitious process that is emblematic of ai weiwei’s complex nature and personal history, as well as the key points around which his art revolves. in addition to an overarching social and political awareness, the work embodies a respect for the chinese tradition combined with the reinterpretation of ancient themes in a contemporary context.

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detail of ‘spouts installation’, 2015
all images courtesy the artist and galleria continua, san gimignano / beijing / les moulins
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai weiwei galleria continua
wang family ancestral hall, 2015
over 1,300 pieces of various wooden building elements from late ming dynasty (1368-1644)
with original carvings and painted replacements
2100×1680×942 cm

 

 

 

inside two exhibitive areas, ai weiwei has meticulously re-built the historic ‘wang jiaci’ wang family ancestral hall, an ancestral temple of ming age, dedicated to the cult of prince wang hua who reigned during the 6th century A.D. for hundreds of years. the place of worship was considered a sacred place, hosting offerings and cult ceremonies for ancestors, social activities and meetings between the wang family. the structure’s particular build — with a framework consisting of columns and wooden beams that are completely independent and detachable from the walls — was used in china over one thousand years ago and is directly related to chinese philosophy and thought. today, wang jiaci is at the core of ai weiwei’s monumental project, since reconstructing it from more than 1500 disassembled pieces within the neighboring gallery spaces. 

ai wei wei galleria continua
the exhibit is spread across the gallery’s beijing space and the adjacent tang contemporary art center

 

 

visitors are forced to see the work only partially without ever being able to experience the entire architectural structure from a single vantage point. deprived of its original use, the temple naturally acquires a new shape and meaning. ai weiwei focuses, once again, on the importance of human actions within a particular space, not only of artistic, but also of social and public character.

ai weiwei splits an ancient temple in two for first solo exhibit in china
installation view of ‘wang family ancestral hall’
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai-wei-wei-galleria-continua-designboom-0102
detail of ‘wang family ancestral hall’
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai-wei-wei-galleria-continua-designboom-0103
interior of ‘wang family ancestral hall’
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai-wei-wei-galleria-continua-designboom-0104
beams from ‘wang family ancestral hall’ break through the wall
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai-wei-wei-galleria-continua-designboom-008
chandelier, 2015
copper, crystal and light fixtures / 400 x 241 x 231 cm
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai-wei-wei-galleria-continua-designboom-007
dragon lantern and bench, 2015


antique dragon lamp, lanterns and wooden bench
photo by oak taylor-smith

ai wei wei galleria continua
colored mirror, 2015
mirror in rosewood frame from qing dynasty (1644- 1912), paint
262.5 (h) x 200 (w) x 6 (t) cm

ai wei wei galleria continua
crystal pillar foundation, 2015
crystal and writing on paper
52 x 52 x 41.5 cm

ai wei wei galleria continua
crystal pillar foundation, 2015
crystal and writing on paper
52 x 52 x 41.5 cm

ai wei wei galleria continua
pillar foundation with twenty-four histories, 2015
wooden boxes and partial texts from ‘twenty-four histories’ on paper
dimensions variable

ai wei wei galleria continua
installation view of the exhibition

ai wei wei galleria continua
wang family ancestral hall photographs, 2015
color prints
216.5 x 129.3 x 6 cm each

ai wei wei galleria continua
wang family ancestral hall photographs, 2015
color prints
132 x 129.3 x 6 cm each

ai wei wei galleria continua
wang family ancestral hall photographs, 2015
79 x 48 x 3.5 cm each
9 B/W prints

 

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