I'm so glad I got to experience this exhibition, inspired by two of the greatest modern artists Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei. Together their works were used to frame a conversation between one another, highlighting the similarities and differences. Whilst both appropriate objects and skillfully incorporate them into their work, Warhol stuck to mass produced consumer goods whereas Ai Weiwei employs artifacts as well as common objects to make social commentary. Since Ai Weiwei is such a strong advocate for social media I was able to document my walk through the exhibition. In a room full of black and white photographs shot on 35mm film (and in some instances, duplicated and stitched together on silk) I felt inspired to start taking film photographs once more. I had been contemplating this for a few weeks but felt it would be an invaluable experience after seeing such vivid snapshots of everyday life.
Normally I go to exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria with my mum but this time I went with a friend from uni instead. Thankfully Alice was happy to oblige when I asked for my photo to be taken when playing with the metallic balloons, which cycled through the room in a giant convection cell and again in front of Ai Weiwei's series of floral arrangements. In response to surveillance cameras being set up in front of his studio, Weiwei has taken this opportunity to create art by placing a new bouquet of flowers in the basket of a bicycle. Where someone might see intimidation and scare tactics, Ai Weiwei seizes an opportunity to express himself artistically whilst also responding to invasion of privacy. Several of his videos and interviews highlight the extent to which he has been harassed and censored, so to be able to respond with a sort of kindness is a reflection of his strength of character.
In one room constructed entirely using Lego bricks, portraits of Australian activists in the style of Warhols screen prints were accompanied by a single quote and shielded behind thick glass. As you walked within this small room, the floor creaked unlike wood but more akin to the sound of electricity jumping across train lines. Although that initially made me feel uneasy, it was a surreal experience to feel completely surrounded by art that was so detailed. Even from afar I was in awe of the work that went into the production of this piece. Each quote was created using a different font- and yet the room ultimately fit together like a giant puzzle piece. To have Ai Weiwei pay such close attention to Australian politics, and create this piece especially for the exhibition, let alone being able to bear witness to it was truly an honour.