Indianapolis Museum of Art hosts Chinese artist Ai Weiwei exhibition


A fascinating new exhibit opens Friday at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and it's one you'll only see at three museums in the United States.

It features the work of controversial Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei. His large installations challenge Chinese culture, history and politics.

One artwork led government officials to detain him for 81 days in 2011. He's still under constant government surveillance.

The piece is called "Straight." It's one he did following a massive earthquake. Ai posted the names of all the children who died in the quake on the wall near the installation of the steel rods.

"It is 38 tons of rebar that was salvaged from destroyed schoolhouses following the 2008 Szechuan Province earthquake. Ai Weiwei visited that area very soon after the earthquake and was extremely moved and disturbed by all of the children who died seemingly unnecessarily because of poorly constructed schoolhouses," said Sarah Green, curator. "So what he did was he collected almost 200 tons of rebar from the demolished sites and brought it back to his studio in Beijing where it was laboriously straightened out. Metal workers helped to do this. And then the rebar was assembled into this amazing, undulating landscape, and brought here. It's a really powerful memorial to those who died."

Weiwei was released by the government but never given back his passport, so he's unable to leave China to attend any of the openings.

His exhibit will be on display at the IMA through July 21st.

IMA - Ai Weiwei - See details about the exhibition here.