The Ai Weiwei‘s exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, open till 22nd January 2017, is the artistic representation of freedom of expression and of the life of this dissident artist. An extraordinary storytelling of the adventures of his life, before in China and then in United States, but also the misadventure with the Chinese regime: in particular the destruction of his studio and the 81 days’ captivity, from 2nd April to 22nd June 2011, in a secret location.
Regimes don’t accept upstream thoughts or individual voices. They expect only a general approval to the same official thought. Come up down from above and imposed by force. The word “freedom” is banished, in all its forms or interpretations. Also with censure, precisely the element that the Chinese artist wants to fight.
Who’s Ai Weiwei?
Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 and since an early age he has experienced the brutality and the repression of Chinese regime. An element that has characterised his life and that forced him to suffer tortures and also the exile. But that made him a strong representative of the awareness of repressive situation in China and also an internationally recognised icon in the fight for democracy and the freedom of expression.
The exhibit, entitled “Libero” (free), following the red thread of upstream thoughts and contradictions, has invaded Palazzo Strozzi with over 60 works, as installations, sculptures and objects with a strong symbolic impact and an enormous political value. It’s a path of total immersion in artist’s world, in his life, in his torments and in his desire of revenge against a world, in some ways, closed. He wants to tell us that an upstream thought is possible: it involves risks, but it’s feasible. All we need is the courage to explain it with all our conviction. Without holding back.
The exhibit is the representation of what we are writing. Palazzo Strozzi allows itself to get through in every single area. The courtyard, the Piano Nobile, the Strozzina gallery but also and above all the façade, where everyone can see some dinghies. Twenty two orange dinghies, anchored in the windows of the Piano Nobile, that represent the migrants issue and that, in a few hours, caused much controversy.
Because an artist divides, splits public opinion. He does not leave room for a homologated and unique thought. And that’s right, because otherwise this wouldn’t be art but would become the habit to join the opinions of those who hold the power, what we usually call conformism.