Ai Weiwei Shows China's Cycle Of Change

<p>The massive bike installation <i>Forever Bicycles</i> turns the common Chinese transportation tool into a reflective illusion.</p>

Ai Weiwei‘s latest solo exhibition “Absent”, currently on view at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum is a retrospective of 21 works spanning the charismatic and controversial Chinese artist’s career—from the 1980s to today.

His most recent work Forever Bicycles—possibly the highlight of the show—is an installation commissioned by the museum consisting of over 1,000 Forever bicycles, stacked and arranged vertically within the museum’s 10 meter-high atrium. The silhouettes of the black wheels and the triangular shapes of the bicycles’ bodies form an amazing, in-depth labyrinthine visual, creating a vivid visual contrast with the atrium’s stark, white space.

Weiwei’s approach in this installation is similar to many of his previous works, like Sunflower Seeds, or the wooden stools in Grape—the artwork’s impact radiates from the accumulation and multiplication of one typical Chinese object.

Since Forever is the oldest Chinese bicycle brand, and biking is the most common public transportation mode in contemporary China, Weiwei establishes a dialogue that disposes the bikes’ original function and reverses our perspective by giving it a new value. What strikes us the most is the way this technique of gathering and re-organizing individual objects transforms the mundane objects into structures emanate a striking energy.

[Images via Arrested Motion.]