@Large: Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz

October 1, 2014

Chinese contemporary artist and political activist Ai Weiwei presents a stunning site-specific exhibition of new work entitled @Large at Alcatraz, a penitentiary located on an island 1.5 miles from downtown San Francisco, California. This show has come to fruition despite the artist’s inability to leave his native China thanks to the extraordinary inspiration, leadership, and support of gallerist and curator Cheryl Haines and her For-Site Foundation.

Sign at Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA

After a chilly ferry ride, visitors arrive on the island and are immediately struck by the expanse of the foreboding prison.  There are seven installations located throughout the complex, three are pictured here. Trace, staged in a former prison labor building, is an expansive floor piece made out of Legos depicting the names and portraits of those who have been exiled or imprisoned because of their beliefs. A moving sound-based project, Stay Tuned, is located in 12 different A Block prison cells. The now decaying hospital ward houses Blossom, a subtle and powerful installation where the artist has filled the utilitarian sinks, bathtubs, and toilets with beautiful porcelain flowers. @Large proves a powerful and moving exhibition on human rights and freedom of expression. The exhibition is on view through April 2015 and I highly recommend a visit.

Ai Weiwei, Trace, 2014, For-Site Foundation, Alcatraz Island


The sunset on our visit to Alcatraz Island


Ai Weiwei, Blossom, 2014, For-Site Foundation, Alcatraz Island


Ai Weiwei, Stay Tuned, 2014, For-Site Foundation, Alcatraz Island