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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei returns to Prague with new installation

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Prague, Feb 24 (CTK) – Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, 59, will return to the Czech Republic in March after a year to display his new artifact created exclusively for the National Gallery (NG) in Prague.

After the installation of the Zodiac sculpture project outside the NG premises in the Veletrzni palace last year, Ai Weiwei is preparing a monumental installation for the main hall of this palace. It will reflect the issues of migration and refugees.

However, the organisers keep its exact shape secret.

The public will see this artifact within the NG’s spring Grand Opening on March 16.

The main installation will be accompanied by his older works that have been presented in many world galleries.

A large exhibition of ceramics, prepared by Ai Weiwei and Dutch artist Edmund de Wall as curators, will be opened at the same time. It will show ceramic as a material closely connected with the art history and present works by Kazimir Malevich, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, for instance.

Ai Weiwei has won fame for his installations that correspond to particular places and their architecture, such as his Sunflower Seeds created for the Tate Modern gallery in London and his installation Forever Bicycles, which is composed of 1500 bicycles symbolising the freedom of movement.

Visitors to his Prague exhibition will see his giant mobile lamp, Traveling Light. It will be the first artifact loaned from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary foundation the collection of which will be displayed in Prague’s NG as of June 2018 for five years.

An enormous snake by Ai Weiwei will be installed on the ceiling. Visitors will see it immediately after entering the Veletrzni Palace. Its body consists of many children’ little backpacks, referring to the earthquake in the Chinese Sichuan province in 2008, in which 20,000 people, including 5,000 school children died.

Another installation of his, entitled Laundromat, will occupy a whole room. Its walls will be papered with some 20,000 photographs from the Idomeni refugee camp at the Greek-Macedonian border. Clothes hanging on stands in the room like in a big cloakroom or laundromat will evoke those that refugees left behind in the camp.

Ai Weiwei commented on the refugee issue in Prague last winter when he wrapped his Zodiac sculptures in a golden foil before the opening. It should evoke the foil given to refugees to protect them from cold in winter.

The artist also expressed surprise at the majority of Czech society opposing the admission of refugees. He remembered the late Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel who, he said, considered responsibility the pillar of democracy.

Ai Weiwei criticises human rights violations in China. The Chinese authorities confiscated his passport in 2011 and they returned it to him only four years later. However, his works were displayed in renowned museums and galleries across the world even when he was under house arrest.

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