Ai Weiwei and 1.000 tents
Essen/Ruhr Metropolis. The art project by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei for EMSCHERKUNST.2013 (June 22 to October 6, 2013) is beginning to take shape.
Visitors will be offered the opportunity to rent one of a thousand tents for an overnight stay at designated locations along the Emscher River.
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who remains a detainee in his native country, is supervising the production of 1,000 tents in simple lines, which will offer space for two to three people. Each tent will be entirely unique, with a slightly different design. The project also includes a webpage, via which members of the public will be able to book a tent and a specific location for their overnight stay in the New Emscher Valley for a small fee at the start of the exhibition EMSCHERKUNST.2013 on June 22, 2013. Depending on demand, the tents may also be available for multi-night bookings. Since ‘uncontrolled’ camping is not permitted in the region, the cities Gelsenkirchen, Essen, Bottrop, Oberhausen, and Dinslaken will allocate up to twelve specific areas, where participants may pitch their tents.
Ai Weiwei sees his project as a comprehensive installation, encompassing the entire exhibition area, to which the entire population of the region and all visitors of the Ruhr Metropolis are invited. At the end of the exhibition, the artist has requested that the tents be placed in a tombola, in which members of the public can participate to win.
The aim is to ensure that these tents remain in the region and serve as a reminder of the art project, which in itself is limited to the summer of 2013.
With his project entitled “Aus der Aufklärung” (Out of Enlightenment), Ai Weiwei ponders the current situation in his native country in terms of the suppression of free speech by the Chinese government. The artist refers to the historical era of Enlightenment in Europe, and views the Chinese population as mired in an “Era of Darkness” despite the current economic boom in the People’s Republic. He also alludes to the great German exhibition entitled “Art of the Enlightenment”, which was initiated in Beijing in 2011. The beginning of the exhibition also coincided with the incarceration of Ai Weiwei by the Chinese government.
EMSCHERKUNST exhibition - background:
The upcoming exhibition EMSCHERKUNST.2013 will be held between June 22 and October 6, 2013. The exhibition space will be Emscher Island between Gelsenkirchen and Oberhausen, and the Emscher River delta near Dinslaken/Duisburg, where the Emscher meets the Rhine River. EMSCHERKUNST, a triennial exhibition series in the northern Ruhr region, will be accompanying one of the largest renaturation projects in Europe until 2020 – the project entails the conversion of the Emscher River wastewater channel back to a natural river landscape. During the European Capital of Culture year RUHR.2010, EMSCHERKUNST.2010 represented the largest art project in the public domain, and attracted 200,000 national and international visitors.
EMSCHERKUNST.2013 is a joint venture project of EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT, Urban Arts Ruhr, and RVR (Regional Association Ruhr).