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Hirshhorn Museum announces Ai Weiwei. According to What?

Hirshhorn Museum announces Ai Weiwei: According to What? the first North American survey of the work of the foremost figure to emerge from the rapidly expanding Chinese contemporary art scene, on view Oct. 7 through Feb. 24, 2013.

Encompassing sculpture, photography, installation, video and audio work, this full-floor exhibition has been significantly revised and updated from the 2009 version of the show organized by the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. It features many works made since 2009, when the Hirshhorn began working with the Mori on the current version of the exhibition, including several that have never been exhibited before.

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. Beijing, 1957) is known for such major projects as “Fairytale,” for which he brought 1,001 Chinese citizens to Documenta 12 in 2007; his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the main stadium—the “Bird’s Nest”—for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing; and his installation of 100 million hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010. He has also garnered attention for embracing the Internet and social media as active platforms for commentary and art forms in their own right. Throughout his career, he has offered insights into the interrelations between art, society and individual experience and has explored such universal topics as culture, history, politics and tradition.

“Ai brings our minds and our very being back to a fundamental way of thinking,” said the exhibition’s curator, Mami Kataoka, chief curator at the Mori Art Museum. “One common thread running through his work is that it forces us to face the basic, existential question of ‘According to what?’”

The organizing curators of the Hirshhorn presentation are deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher and assistant curator Mika Yoshitake.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, has nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works in its collection.

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