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Ai Weiwei
Courtesy of Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei uses fairytales to comment on surveillance

Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and the dissident Chinese artist examine the changing nature of public space in this new exhibition

A new exhibition featuring work from Ai Weiwei, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron will explore the idea of public space in a world that’s constantly being watched. The installation will subvert the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm to comment on our surveillance-heavy society.

Visitors to the exhibit, co-curated by Tom Eccles and Hans-Ulrich Obrist at Park Avenue Armory in New York, will attempt to find their way through an installation terrain with drones and infrared cameras, bringing to mind the story of the brother and sister navigating their way through the woods with only a trail of breadcrumbs. Visitors to the exhibit can also explore the ‘surveillance laboratory’, where footage is fed to and monitored, becoming big brother themselves.

“This project provides a powerful lens for examining surveillance as one of the defining social phenomena of our time,” the Armory’s executive produce and president Rebecca Robertson, the Armory’s executive producer and president said in a statement to the Art Newspaper. “And (it) provokes pressing questions about the right to privacy in a hyper-monitored world.”

Hansel and Gretel extends dynamic creative synergies that exist between the practices of Jacques, Pierre, and Weiwei and adds a new dimension to the imaginative, monumental work they’ve created together” said Pierre Audi, the Armory’s Artistic Director. “Weiwei is an artist who has an innate understanding of the impact that built environments have on the artistic experience, as well as the direct experience of being watched 24/7.  Jacques and Pierre bring deep experience of the emotional interplay between the public and private domain. Together they provide the ideal complement in pushing each other’s practices.”

We’ll be watching.

You can visit Hansel and Gretel at the Park Armory from June 7 – August 6 2017