Ai Wei Wei

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Our next exhibition this week is Ai Wei Wei at the Royal Academy. This is one of the biggies this autumn. It’s had a lot of press and publicity. Ai Wei Wei is a controversial figure and extremely adept at generating publicity. Which to some extent is what his art is about.

You arrive at the beautiful courtyard of the Royal Academy to the sight of these beautiful trees, that are made up of bits of other trees put together.

It was a cold crisp morning when we were there.

The exhibition is very moving in many ways, but in other ways there is something empty about it. There is an absence. It is almost like a documentary. Ai Wei Wei is documenting what life in China is like. Which is sometimes horrific, sometimes a bit funny and sometimes disturbing.

He is there but not there, which seems to sum up his life quite succinctly. Much of the work was made in his forced absence. He is the watcher and the observer and as the visitor to the exhibition you are the watcher of the watcher.

It is an extraordinary body of work and well worth seeing. The exhibition runs until 13 December so there’s not long left, but it is open late at weekends.

I’d recommend getting there early or late. We booked for 10 am and I was the first and only person in some of the rooms which was a gift.

My only complaint is that they try to force you to have an audio guide. I loathe audio guides in museums and galleries. I don’t understand them at all. They make you disconnected from your surroundings. I’m at an art exhibition, I want to look and feel and if I’m listening I’m not feeling and looking. If I want to find out more about the works I’ll do so later. Am I the only one who thinks this? or am I just being a grouch?

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