“Dissident Artist”: Ai Weiwei is not free from definition.
But today who is free among of us ?
“Free” is the title of the retrospective that the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi dedicates to Ai Weiwei, and that until 22 January 2017 will occupy the whole venue, from the first floor of the Palace to the basement of the Strozzina.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

Tyre smell.
Ready-made is forever. “Stacked” is a site-specific version for Strozzi Palace of the work “Forever”. The nine hundred and fifty bicycles are stacked one upon the another as to form an optical maze, a triumphal arch, a critique to the problem of transport system, to the freedom of movement, a reference to Duchamp.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

On a white wall, away from criticism and accusations, “Snake Bag” moves motionless, a reminder of the thousands of students died May 12, 2008 for the earthquake in Sichuan. Wave upon wave three hundred school bags are sewn together. I perceive death as I approach to huali wooden containers. “Rebar and Case”: I never thought they could be anything else but tombs.
Order explodes in the harmony of a vortex. Ai Weiwei reinterprets the Chinese tradition and the collections of the Ming and Qing destroying and reconstructing them: from the tables to “Grapes” in which thirtyfour stools seem to be endless.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

I read the “Map of China”: a puzzle-sculptures made from different woods, different ethnic groups and invisible joints.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

I continue my journey without deliberately stopping in the “Renaissance” of Ai Weiwei.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

It is impossible for the “Objects” to be free of subjectivity: “The Wave” is reminiscent of the works of the Yuan Dynasty, the Japanese prints, of which the “Wave” by the Japanese Hokusai is the image-guidance, the Chinese history that goes to the present time.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

Given his problems with the perspective shown by its provocative “Study of Perspective”, the relationship between tradition and modernity loses its depth in my eyes. Manipulation of objects wins on the history of which they are holders and remains the rebellion of an experimental artist who lives in a limbo between the real and the virtual.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

In the series “Han Dynasty Vases with Auto Paint” Neolithic pots were dipped in milk of car refinish paint to cancel the historical value and to turn them into contemporary works. I enter the room and past the “Vases”, I heard one fall: it was 1995 when Ai Weiwei destroyed an urn of the Han Dynasty.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

I put roses in ivory weapons, the precious objects of torture.
I appreciate the aesthetic and play with them. I agree with the message if addressed to the community of men.
1978 is the year of the Beijing Spring, the year when Ai Weiwei enters the Film Academy, the year in which the father, Ai Qing, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

In the seventh hall of Palazzo Strozzi, the spring of Ai Weiwei’s art blossoms: “Blossom” are the porcelain flowers that evoke the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” launched in China in the fifties.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei
I feel observed by a petrified look: the “Surveillance Camera and Plinth” which transforms actions of all men into marble. 
I feel observed by three artist’s figures: “Taifeng” is the big wind, “Feiyu” is the flying fish and “Huantouguo” is the bird man.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

And not from the sea but from the river of Shanghai land, the crabs were born between harmony and censorship, that flood the last room of critics and courage. I step back and I find the “Souvenir from Shanghai” of the study that the Shanghai government in 2008 invited Ai Weiwei to build in Malu Town, and that on 11 January 2011 was razed. Only a few ruins have survived and today they constitute a heavy wall perhaps “more durable than bronze …”? History will tell, memory of mankind.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

I raise my left hand. I touch my chin. I imitate Ai Weiwei who, in black and white imitates Andy Warhol: mirror play.


Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

3, 2, 1, shoot! Like the arm that holds the ankle of the bent gun-shaped leg, gesture of Ai Weiwei went viral and now collected under the title of “Leg Gun”. A gun, then a false leg? A false leg, then a gun?
The key word is “Fake” as the name of the artist’s studio, as “258 Fake” and as “The Fake Case”, the film by director Andreas Johnsen. The fake is an Art History’s beloved subject.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

3, 2, 1, share! On the blog, opened in 2005 and blacked out in 2009 that reached one hundred thousand visits a day, Ai Weiwei published not only photos but also the list of names of children who died for the 2008 earthquake. He shares his thoughts via Twitter, his images via Instagram.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

3, 2, 1, shoot! The accumulation of images in my mind has taken autonomous form by joining in a heavy crystal cube: two tons of “Crystal Cube”.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

It is right that art adapts to new technologies. The artist thinks that. I believe it is right that new technologies find their place in the evolution of art. Rather than Darwinist “adaptation” I would talk of “symbiosis”. Art is child of its time. Surely Ai Weiwei is following a new course and he is for this precise historical moment an important figure to follow to see the natural transition from the touch to the button, from the society to the social media … And the social community?

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

But freedom is fragile as porcelain and it is as difficult to treat as marble. It is easy to get burned with it, as with fire, and if you lie it flies away as a puff of cold air that hits you on the teeth and does not make you breathe. Freedom.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Palazzo Strozzi, Ai Weiwei

Credits
Special thanks to A-Lab Milano
Photo: Andrea Baccetti

AMOlink:
palazzostrozzi.org
corriere.it/ai-weiwei-le-opinioni-di-critici-e-artisti/

INFO
“Ai Weiwei. Libero”
From 23 September to 22 January 2017
at Palazzo Strozzi
Organized by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
With the collaboration of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/Habana
Curated by Arturo Galansino