Ai Weiwei Coming to London Show

Ai Weiwei. Courtesy Center for the Creative Arts.

Well, that is, if he is ever able to travel again. Ai Weiwei is hoping to attend the opening of his first major institutional show in the UK, which will open in September 2015 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Independent reports.

The artist and activist, who has been unable to leave his native China since 2011, said he was “always positive” about getting his passport back. Until now, however, all his requests have been turned down. Last summer, his mother had to fly to Venice on her son’s behalf to attend the Biennale’s opening, where Ai was showing work.

Ai has been very vocal in his criticisms of the Chinese authorities for their stance on democracy and human rights. In June of 2011, he was released from 81 days in detention, but his passport was confiscated.

During a press presentation last Wednesday, Tim Marlow, director of artistic programs at the RA, said the exhibition will feature at least three big installations. He explained that they were hoping to display both new work and some of Ai’ most notable pieces, if the Chinese authorities allowed them out of the country. Marlow also said they have also secured access to works that are already out of China, just in case.

Ai is currently the subject of two exhibitions in the UK, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and at Blenheim Palace (see “Ai Weiwei Takes Over Downton Abbey-esque Estate”), but the RA exhibition will mark the “first significant survey of Ai Weiwei’s artistic output,” Marlow declared.

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