Ai Weiwei’s Triple Threat at the Venice Biennale

Artsy Editorial
May 29, 2013 10:02PM

As his newly released music video reminds us, Chinese art activist Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in a secret Chinese prison (he’s out now) and his perpetually controversial world dialogue is again, ready to be heard. As a triple threat at the 55th Venice Biennale, the wayward artist will occupy one fourth of the German national pavilion in addition to a two-part solo exhibition, the latter which recalls his jail-time memories through fiberglass dioramas of daily hardships. Given his recent musical release, there’s a good chance the work will provoke questions about the track, titled “Dumbass,” which is five minutes of his life lived in detention. “The idea (for this song) first came to me while I was in detention and the guards watching me quietly inquired if I could sing,” he said, later adding, “For young people around the ages of 19-20, music can spark their imagination and passion, and this small incident moved me. After I was released, I thought I should write my own song.”

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019