The first time I went to Alcatraz was during my first visit to San Francisco. The second time was after I moved here and played tour guide. And the third was a few weekends ago, on a date, to see the Ai Weiwei installation.
I admit, I didn’t know much about this internationally-renowned artist/activist beforehand, but had heard a lot of buzz about the show, called @Large. Plus it was an excuse to play tourist in my own town for the day.
The show was included in the ticket price, and intertwined within the prison walls. What’s really interesting is that Ai Weiwei created these seven site-specific installations—without ever leaving China. Briefly imprisoned himself, Weiwei is still not allowed to leave his own country.
Some pieces were so subtle, mainly using sound, I initially didn’t even realize they were part of the exhibit. But once we walked to the New Industries building, where the large, splashy sculptures were located, it became pretty obvious. This dragon kite, called With Wind, greeted us at the door.
Those portraits on the floor are made of legos! You can read more about that here.
The show also extended through the dining hall and hospital areas of the main prison, where porcelain flowers filled the sinks, tubs and toilets. And it was very (creepy) cool walking through the asylum and seeing those old beds. This would make a great night tour. Maybe on trip #4.
If that doesn’t impress you, check out this amazing view on the way back. And just like Alcatraz, it never gets old. The Ai Weiwei show runs through April 26.