Alphawood Exhibitions presents Ai Weiwei’s Trace in Chicago.
Organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, the site-specific installation will be on view from 9 May–7 July at 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Trace is a monumental work comprising nearly one million individual LEGO® bricks arranged to depict women and men from around the world whom the artist considers activists, prisoners of conscience, or advocates of free speech. The work was commissioned in 2014 by the nonprofit FOR-SITE Foundation, in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, for an exhibition at Alcatraz, the former penitentiary in San Francisco, where it drew nearly one million visitors. In 2017, Trace made its institutional debut at the Hirshhorn, which recently acquired it for its permanent collection. The creation of Trace was shaped by Ai’s own experiences as a prisoner of the Chinese government. Having previously been brutalized and censored for his activism and outspoken criticism of totalitarian regimes, in 2011 he was incarcerated, interrogated, beaten and kept under surveillance in Beijing for 81 days and then prohibited from traveling abroad until 2015. He conceived and planned Trace during this period.