Andrew and I became members of The Brooklyn Museum shortly after we moved into our apartment just down the street. My immediate motivation was to attend a talk about street art in Brooklyn by BrooklynStreetArt.com founders Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo. Afterwards there was an open panel that included Swoon, a Brooklyn based artist who currently has Submerged Motherlands on display in one of the museum's rotundas. The talk was great and Swoon's exhibition is pretty rad- but more on that later.
Before you even get into Ai Wei Wei's According to What? exhibition, don't miss S.A.C.R.E.D. This installation was made specifically for the Brooklyn Museum exhibition. We walked right by it, because we either didn't see the sign, there wasn't one, or we were oblivious. Perhaps it would help if you are more attentive than we were. From first glance the installation just looks like giant iron boxes perhaps left-over from or in preparation for some building construction. If you see a smaller wooden box sitting against the bigger steel box, go stand on it (like this little guy in with the awesome bike helmet) - and look down!
The boxes are, according to Brooklyn Museum, "mini-prisons that show scenes from Ai's 81-day detainment in a Chinese jail, where he served time for tax evasion charges in 2011. The dioramas depict Ai eating, bathing, and sleeping with guards hovering over him." You can also view the inside of the boxes from little windows on the opposite side of the "ceiling" view sides. (It'll make more sense when you see them, I promise) En route to the elevators, it's harder to miss the Forever Bicycles installation. To hear Ai Wei Wei's inspiration for the installation, watch his video explanation here!
With my friend, Gina in tow, our first stop was to have a little fun in front of one of Michelangelo Pistoletto's mirror paintings. Back in August, Andrew and I saw these mirror paintings at the Louvre while we were traveling around the world. I love it when I recognize artwork, and even more when I can remember where I saw it last! Gina and a friend have funny glasses that they wear for pictures in different places and send to each other. She let me join in on the fun!
We got a little turned around thinking we'd see Ai Wei Wei first and then Swoon. This was a bad idea. After our trip and the many, many museum visits in many different countries around the world, Andrew and I have decided we should probably start a museum consulting firm. As much as I already love The Brooklyn Museum- their signage is terrible! There aren't any maps (that we could find) anywhere, and when I thought I was picking up some information on Ai Wei Wei, it turned out to be a pamphlet on how to become a member... WHEN I ALREADY AM! Lesson to share: just head to the fifth floor first. Seeing Swoon's Submerged Motherlands will make up for any prior confusion. While I admit- I couldn't stop taking pictures... you must read more about the exhibition here, and then go see it in person.
If you're not as familiar with Ai Wei Wei, I urge you to check him out. I'm a huge (*huge*) fan. He's one of those artists I want to meet, have a cup of tea with, hang out in his studio for the rest of my life hours with... Perhaps you might feel the same. Unless, maybe you're attached to Han Dynasty vases...