Mercato Centrale Firenze and Palazzo Strozzi
To tie in with the exhibition, the Mercato Centrale Firenze is hosting an installation consisting of ten giant photographs from the famous series Study of Perspective.
The images comprise a sort of ironic travelogue in which the artist places his camera between his face and his middle finger pointing towards such iconic spots as the Colosseum in Rome, the White House in Washington, or Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Ai Weiwei changes our way of looking at the world, in this case with an ironic and irreverent approach that questions the traditional outlook.
Ai Weiwei does not point the finger of accusation directly at the authorities; rather, he criticises its symbols and our way of interacting with them.
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“It’s a pleasure and an honour for us to participate in co-hosting the Ai Weiwei exhibition, certainly the most important cultural and artistic event held in Florence in recent years.
Our cooperation is part of a project that characterises what has been from the very beginning the scope of Mercato Centrale and has already reaped significant success with the appearance in our spaces of two protagonists in the art of our time, Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto.
We started from an idea, a very simple one, that the places of everyday life and the places of art should no longer be kept separate.
In our day and age, art is not a privileged experience, which is accessed in the protected enclosures of museums and galleries, with the illusion, when one is not “in the know”, of suddenly being transformed from individuals immersed in everyday life into free and educated users of a message of beauty and truth, or into knowing witnesses of a “one-of-a-kind” revelation, the inner world of the artist. Today art looks for us, it wants to reach us in the same places where we socialise, it asks us to be ready and “open” at any moment for a dialogue with the forms, the images, the situations that can introduce into our routine of work, leisure, and relationships with others the ferment of critical thought, the stimulus of a “different” perception, the thrill of the incongruous, the insistent question about the meaning of who we are and what we are doing here and now.”
Director General Mercato Centrale di Firenze
“Born in Beijing in 1957 and as famous for his role as an activist as for his art, Ai Weiwei has been called the most influential artist of our time. His fame as a dissident has gone hand in hand with his artistic activity and Ai Weiwei has continued to produce works that support political convictions, giving voice at once to his creativity and his experiments. From 23 September 2016 to 22 January 2017 more than a hundred works by the artist, including installations, photographic series and videos, will be on display at Palazzo Strozzi, which is being used for the first time in a unified manner from the facade to the courtyard, from the Piano Nobile to the Strozzina. Such a revolutionary undertaking couldn’t just be restricted to our Palazzo. For a centre of contemporary urban life such as the Mercato Centrale Firenze, we present ten works in maxi format taken from one of Ai Weiwei’s most famous photographic series: Study of Perspective. The images are a kind of ironic travelogue in which the artist puts the camera between his face and middle finger directed to a place in the background.
Through this provocative gesture, the artist draws our attention to the iconic places in his life, but also to popular subjects such as monuments or museums, global symbols of the political and cultural power that are often used as a backdrop for souvenir photographs taken by tourists. The photographs are often out of focus or not fully focused, extolling the character of the instant image and are a humorous and anti-rhetorical approach that expresses a strong aversion to cultural hegemony in all its forms. Ai Weiwei is not critical of power directly, but its symbols and the way we interface with it.
The installation inside the Mercato Centrale Firenze appeared immediately as a technical and cultural challenge, but also an attractive and strongly symbolic choice. The installation is part of the recent history of the Mercato dedicated to creative and artistic reflection, as demonstrated also in past installations by contemporary artists such as Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Using the Mercato as a backdrop for artistic expression will amplify its social impact, opening itself to a comparison with life and the gestures and actions of the everyday life of those who work at or visit the market as a resident or tourist. The art of Ai Weiwei always talks in powerful and direct contemporary social, political and cultural terms, using heterogeneous artistic language and drawing on different cultural sources, often straddling East and West. In the case of the Mercato Centrale, as he did in places like the Le Bon Marché department store in Paris in January 2016, Ai Weiwei manages to enter, through his art, into the very flow of life itself. Karen Smith writes in the exhibition catalogue: “For Ai Weiwei, art is a framework within which to reflect reality”. In his works, life and art blend. Not only his life but that of every one of us.”
Director General Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
Pick up the coupon at the Infopoint in the Mercato Centrale Firenze for a discount on the price of admission to the Ai Weiwei. Libero exhibition (€9.50 reduced from €12.00).