One thing I’ve noticed since moving is that lunch breaks are seriously enforced here. Barely anyone eats at their desk unless they are super swamped and the norm is to take the full hour (often more) to go eat, have a coffee, catch up with friends, and shop.
While this has taken some getting used to, and I’d much prefer to work through a long lunch and then just leave early, it is definitely nice to break up the day, get some sunlight, stretch your legs, and have some time to yourself away from the computer.
While here, I’ve continuously checked up on Time Out Magazine to see if there’s anything fun going on that I should go see on my own. Through Time Out, I learned that there were two art exhibits showing that captured my interest – Ai Weiwei and KAWS. Incredibly different but each at galleries within a block of each other, I decided to go and see them during one of my lunch breaks.
Preface: UGHHHHHH Guys. I debated going back to the hotel to pick up my nice camera before heading to the galleries and decided against it since I was a little pressed for time. It was only after I had left the Ai Weiwei exhibit that I realized I had my camera in my purse the whole time! So, unfortunately, the Ai Weiwei pics were taken on my phone which is so unfortunate because they really would have thrived with the nice camera. You’ll see.
First up: Ai Weiwei at Tang Contemporary Art. Are you familiar with Ai Weiwei? He is a Chinese contemporary artist and activist. As an activist, he is highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on human rights and democracy. Working through a range of mediums including sculpture, video, and photography, Ai Weiwei uses his art as a platform for his activism. His pieces often deal with real time issues in the world and the injustices happening all around us. Because of his fame and open criticism, Ai Weiwei has long been monitored by the Chinese government. In 2011, Ai Weiwei was arrested and his studio ransacked. He was held for 81 days with no official charges being filed. The international art community protested his detention, mobilizing petitions and calling for his release. He was released after 3 months and forbidden from leaving Beijing for one year. Now, though free, he is still the subject of much scrutiny in China.
The exhibition was called Refutation and was a look at the refugee crises happening around the world. The main piece was a giant inflatable raft with about eighteen refugees (from what I could count) huddled together inside. The entire piece was made of black latex and was enormous, taking up basically the entire gallery space.
When you looked closer, you could see the details – the child crawling in the back of the boat and an adult hunched over it, attempting to fasten its life jacket.
The gallery also had three portraits made entirely out of Legos.
Unfortunately, the gallery is all windows and the contrast of the sun’s glare on the inflatable raft did not make for good pictures. The exhibit is closed now but you can find more Ai Weiwei currently at the Sydney Biennale until June 11.
Just around the corner at Perrotin Gallery was KAWS’ solo exhibition, showcasing his recent works all encompassing his well known and instantly recognizable motifs.
KAWS is a pop art artist from Brooklyn who is best known for his cartoon figurines that play a major part in almost all of his pieces, whether sculpture or painting.
Originally coming to popularity as a graffiti artist, KAWS has established himself as a successful and ever evolving pop artist showing his work in incredible galleries all over the world.
Both of these gallery spaces were really inviting. The exhibits were nice and easy to walk through and I returned to work with my Arts & Culture box checked off for the day!