Ai WeiWei at The Royal Academy

The Ai WeiWei exhibition at The Royal Academy ran from 19th September to the 13th December 2015


One of the most popular, outstanding and perhaps controversial exhibitions of recent times, Ai WeiWei certainly used the opportunity well to present to us his unique if not egotistical perspective on cultural values, political totalitarianism and the fragility of the human condition.

Much has been written on the exhibition so all I want to do here is to draw retrospective attention to 3 of the exhibits that stood out for me.

Coloured Vases 2015

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I was at first appalled. Sacred, ancient works of art irredeemably vandalised. Irreplaceable treasures destroyed. A sacrilegious destruction of precious elite works.

But then I thought, precious to whom? Precious to the elite? For the pleasure of the few?

The artist’s simple act of vandalism is bringing alive the very existence of these pots for you, for me and for every spectator in this gallery.

Elitism exposed? My enjoyment and the enrichment of all, enhanced by this destruction.

Surveillance Camera 2010


The dead staring eye, avoiding all contact, indiscreet, unyieldingly solid, cold, tomb-like marble.

Symbolically scrutinizing our every move, with a depth of surveillance as a carrion consuming buzzard in the sky.

Stark, immobile, watchful and anonymous: a blunt reminder of the multi-layered silent infrastructure of our state protectors.

Straight 2008-12

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Deadened steel rods, wasted scrap metal, rusted dull brown and grey, juxtaposed in tonne weight silence yet precision cut and deliberately matched and balanced, forming distinct rectangular undulating symbols of the thousands of dead young lives never to be lived to their fullness.