Ai Weiwei at the Albertina Modern: "In Search of Humanity"

More+Photo Galleries ♦ Published: February 2, 2022; 22:58 ♦ (Vindobona)

A new exhibition at the Albertina Modern entitled "In Search of Humanity" will display works by renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Learn more about the new exhibition and see some of the pieces that will be on display.

“In Search of Humanity" opens on 16 March 2022 at the Albertina Modern. / Picture: © Albertina Modern / Ai Weiwei

Beginning on 16 March 2022, the Albertina Modern will be displaying a new exhibition of art by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei entitled “In Search of Humanity.”

This new exhibition will open just weeks after the end of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which will be diplomatically boycotted by the US, the UK, Belgium, Canada, and various other countries due to concerns about what many are calling genocide by China against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Ai Weiwei has been described as one of the most important artists of our time, a tireless activist and critic of authoritarian systems.

“In Search of Humanity” deals in depth with the aspects of humanity and artistic commentary in the work of Ai Weiwei.

His earliest works were already characterized by an examination of his native China, where he experienced the effects of the Cultural Revolution as a child through the exile of his father, the great poet Ai Qing.

As a young man in New York’s East Village in the 1980s, he witnessed and documented the protest movements there.

Back in Beijing, it was the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre to which he responded artistically.

His outstretched middle finger, which he held up to well-known buildings as representative objects of power, thus denouncing injustices, ultimately became his trademark.

Time and again, the artist addresses power structures and the mechanisms of exercising power, be it the destruction of cultural heritage as an expression of one’s own superiority or the exercise of manipulation, censorship, and surveillance by the state.

He unrelentingly takes a closer look wherever he sees freedom of expression and human rights in danger—from the Chinese government’s methods of intimidation and the threats to journalists and political activists to the protests in Hong Kong, the massive restrictions in Wuhan during the outbreak of the corona pandemic, and even his own detainment in 2011.

Ai regards the current situation of refugees around the world as perhaps the greatest global humanitarian crisis since the Second World War and as an enormous challenge for us as a solidary society—and he sees each and every one of us as having a responsibility to take action.

With Ai Weiwei’s cultural readymades, his wall works, sculptures, installations, photographs, and numerous films, the exhibition offers an impressive overview of the artist’s career spanning more than four decades and includes key works from all his creative phases.

“In Search of Humanity” can be seen from 16 March at the Albertina Modern (Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna). The Albertina Modern is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Albertina Modern