Ai Weiwei’s exhibition uses Alcatraz to retaliate against lack of freedom of speech

52 years after it held America’s worst criminals, Alcatraz is now home to the internationally renowned work of China’s famous art activist, Ai Weiwei. In 2011, Weiwei was secretly detained for 81 days in China, due to vocal criticism of his government, and he is still unable to leave the country. His protest against this is found in his artwork in an exhibition created especially for Alcatraz.

In the exhibition, Weiwei uses the history and symbolism of the prison to voice his opinion and raise questions about freedom of speech and human rights, building awareness of a particularly relevant global problem. His exhibition includes massive lego collages of individuals who have been imprisoned or punished for their beliefs. The 176 colorful pixelated faces occupies the floor of the New Industries building. In the adjacent room lies a massive sweeping Chinese dragon, hung elevated above the heads of its audience. The delicate paper dragon gives of a powerful and fearsome vibe. Mentioned are just some of the many thought provoking art works hosted on Alcatraz.

During the exhibition, ferry rides from Pier 33 to Alcatraz are 50 dollars round trip. The showcase ends on the April 26, so get your tickets soon!