Perversely, this is turning into the summer of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist-activist who’s been detained for two and a half months following his arrest in early April at Beijing airport. In addition to his first major public installation in New York City, and a whole bunch of street art demanding his release, the Upper East Side’s Asia Society has announced that it will mount a retrospective of photographs taken by Ai during the period he lived in the East Village, from 1983-93.
The Times reports that the exhibition will open a week from tomorrow, and run from June 29 through August 14 at the Park Avenue institution. It will bring together some 227 photos selected from the roughly 10,000 that Ai took while living in New York City and frequenting a community of Chinese expat artists, many of whom appear in the documentary photographs, which also feature local figures like Allen Ginsberg, snapshots of daily life and images of his own work (as seen above). Ironically, the show draws heavily from an exhibition based on the same body of photographs that was held in Beijing in 2009 at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center.
Asia Society museum director Melissa Chiu tells the Times that the timing of this this exhibition is especially important because it “gives voice to an artist who has essentially been silenced since April 3.”