Ai Weiwei: The Liberty of Doubt
12 February – 19 June 2022
We were delighted to present a new exhibition by Ai Weiwei (born 1957, Beijing, China), one of the world’s most renowned and significant artists. The exhibition explored truth, authenticity and value, as well as globalisation, the coronavirus pandemic and geopolitical crises.
In the ground floor galleries there was a single installation devised by Ai Weiwei. This was the first time the artist had juxtaposed historic Chinese objects with his own artworks. The antiquities on display were acquired by Ai Weiwei at an auction in Cambridge in 2020. He identified some as original, including from the Northern Wei (386 – 534CE) dynasty, and others as counterfeits, later copies of original works.
Ai Weiwei’s own works, beautifully crafted in jade, marble and porcelain, explore contemporary issues, draw on his life story and transform familiar artefacts into iconic objects. The exhibition also included one of the artist’s most famous images, ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’, made here in LEGO bricks. On the second floor of Kettle’s Yard, you could watch three of the artist’s documentary films, Coronation (2020), Cockroach (2020) and Human Flow (2017). These remarkable films examine and illuminate the pandemic in Wuhan, China, the student protests in Hong Kong and the global migration crisis. Two Fairytale Chairs (2007) were placed in the Kettle’s Yard house for visitors to use. In the Research Space on the first floor were books and films about the artist to read and watch.
Installation photos: Jo Underhill
…Arranged within the beautiful, Jamie Fobert-designed galleries… this show sparkles with connections and ideas.
This is a political exhibition, but it is also intensely personal. It is a serious exhibition, but it is also playful.
This exhibition may be small, but it still packs a powerful punch…
Find out more with exhibition curator Elizabeth Brown.
10 Questions to Ai Weiwei with Students From North Cambridge Academy
We are grateful for the support of the following:
Charles and Angela Chadwyck-Healey
John and Jennifer Crompton
Suling Chan Mead
the Porthmeor Fund
Marc and Rachel Polonsky
Samantha de Reus and Felix Zhang
Bianca and Stuart Roden
Giles and Sonia Coode-Adams
Dr Carol Atack and Alex van Someren
the Andrew and Fiona Blake Trust Fund
Dr Claire and Professor Martin Daunton
the Hubbard family
Midge and Simon Palley
Jonathan and Nicole Scott
And all those that wish to remain anonymous