Israel Museum
Ai Weiwei
Maybe, Maybe Not
Mixed media
1. June 2017 | 20 – 23 pm
Exhibition: 02 Jun – September 2017
Curator: Mira Lapidot
Art Garden, Nathan Cummings Building
for Modern and Contemporary Art
Derech Ruppin 11

AI Weiwei © Ai Weiwei Studio

On display for the first time in Israel, works by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, one of the most influential and esteemed members of the international contemporary art scene. Weiwei artworks combine sculpture, photography, video, and large-scale installations, such as his astounding 2010 installation which covered the entire floor of the Tate Museum in London with hundreds of tons of sunflower seeds, each one sculpted from porcelain and painted by hand. This work addresses the accelerated production processes which are eradicating both traditional Chinese handcrafting and lifestyles, and is one of the works on display here. This exhibition – spread out over a number of galleries – features powerful and visually captivating works exploring issues facing contemporary culture. Weiwei was imprisoned without trial in his native China, and his movements were restricted by the government due to his political activism and outspoken stance on human rights and freedom of expression, messages which are central themes in his art.



Israel Museum
Ai Weiwei Maybe, Maybe Not
Mixed media
Gallery Talks
Ai Weiwei with exhibition curators
Curator: Mira Lapidot
Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 | 12 pm
Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 | 12:30 pm, 2 – 3 pm
Monday, 07 Aug 2017 | 02 pm
Language: Russian
Art Garden, Nathan Cummings Building
for Modern and Contemporary Art
Exhibition: 02 Jun – September 2017
Derech Ruppin 11



Ai Weiwei: Maybe, Maybe Not
23 tons of porcelain sunflower seeds were scattered last week on the floor of a large gallery in the Israel Museum; two iron trees, each seven meters high and weighing 14 tons, were “planted” in the museum’s art garden. Weighing two tons, a 35 meters long carpet, precisely replicating the 969 marble floor tiles in Munich’s Haus der Kunst Museum, and inaugurated some 70 years ago by the Nazis,is laid out in the changing exhibition hall.
In recent weeks, dozens of museum staff have worked hard to prepare one of the most fascinating and important exhibitions in Israel. “Ei Weiwei: Maybe, Maybe Not” – an exhibition by Chinese artist Ei Weiwei; one of the most influential and acclaimed artists in the world, combining monumental installations with traditional Chinese handicrafts. “The exhibition provides an opportunity to witness the aesthetic and powerful works of an island that presents an exhibition for the first time in Israel,” says Shua Ben-Ari, assistant curator of the museum’s Head curator of the Art Wing. “Beyond the beauty of the works, however, they give rise to profound thought on issues such as human rights, freedom of expression, treatment of immigrants and working and manufacturing conditions.”
Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957. When he was one year old he was exiled with his family to a labor camp for “reeducation” because of his father’s pluralistic views. In 1976, at the age of 18, his family was acquitted and allowed to return to Beijing.
From the beginning of his artistic career, he initiated exhibitions and artistic activities that challenged the Communist regime in China. For these actions he paid a heavy price; the most significant occurred in 2011, when he was arrested by the Chinese authorities for 81 days without trial. Today he works from Berlin, but occasionally travels to China.
Working with Chinese craftsmen, he preserves rare the traditions that are disappearing because of the rapid development in China. The Kipa work, for example, consists of 6,000 pieces of wood from ancient temples that he gathered from among the ruins that the communist government destroyed in order to make space for infrastructure development. A Chinese craftsman, who arrived at the Israel Museum, especially for the exhibition, composed and combined the pieces into a large wooden puzzle using typical Chinese, organic interlocking carpentry techniques; working without nails or adhesives.




The black sunflower seeds – made of special porcelain developed in the 14th century in China – were hand-painted one by one by 1,600 artists; giving new meaning to the idea of “Made in China”.
The iron trees exhibited in the art garden were forged from iron castings of wood splinters of trees that had been damaged as a result of the infrastructure development in the south. “These works, and many others, raise the question: is what we see the truth?” Says Ben-Ari. “Maybe … maybe not.”
Curator: Mira Lapidot


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