Dusseldorf exhibition features artist Ai Weiwei's biggest, heaviest works

Circle of Animals by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on display during his exhibition, the largest to date in Europe.
Circle of Animals by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on display during his exhibition, the largest to date in Europe.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DUSSELDORF (DPA) - A German art gallery opens an exhibition of work by Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei on Saturday (May 18).

The exhibition, dubbed simply "Ai Weiwei" is thought to be his largest to date in Europe. It is shown by the art collection of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, and is running from Saturday until Sept 1.

"He is an activist as artist and an artist as activist," Susanne Gaensheimer, director of the collection and co-curator, said of Ai Weiwei on Thursday.

The exhibition includes some of his most intricate and massive installations - so much so that it had to be spread over two buildings and the integral structure of the museum monitored.

Two of Ai Weiwei's most famous works, weighing over 100 tons, have been erected in halls in the main building of the museum.

Ai Weiwei was jailed in China for 81 days in 2011 and has since fled the country and set up shop in Berlin. He represents his own imprisonment in a piece that allows people to literally peek at images of his life in jail through holes in an iron box.

The artist has been outspoken on a range of political topics, including immigration.

 

One piece of art, "Laundromat", includes 40 racks of clothing left behind when the Greek refugee camp of Idomeni was cleared by authorities.

Another displays a rubber dinghy in which passengers appear as ghostly figures, the boat as a death ship.

"I myself am a migrant," Ai said on Thursday.