Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria

May 2, 2016

An exhibit that just recently wrapped up in Australia featured over 300 pieces sworn in by Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum and the world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei focused on the similarities and differences between the artists. It examined how their work took shape based on political issues contemporary to their times.

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Greeted in the lobby by Weiwei’s five-meter-tall chandelier, guests quickly got a taste of the grandeur that awaited. As the crystals chimed down from ceiling to floor, Weiwei’s famous Forever Bicycle installation comprising more than 1,500 silver bikes was hard to miss. Attendees were encouraged to walk through, around and under the installation, the scale of the piece becoming clear as you gazed up at the ceiling. On its left, a queue was forming next to a photo booth where guests could take selfies in a true Warhol style.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei was one of the gallery’s largest exhibits to-date, spanning nearly the entire gallery and allowing for a truly dynamic experience. Every room displayed a centrepiece by Weiwei, one of which was Blossom. Featuring thousands of white porcelain flowers blanketing the floor, it stood in memory of those suppressed for fighting for freedom of the speech and human rights.

A favourite of many was a room filled with balloons shaped like gold alpacas and red Twitter-like birds where patrons could interact by pushing them around. Smiles lit up the room as everyone found their inner youthful and candid spirits. This installation was a comment on social media and its suppression in China.

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Kids were not forgotten and had an entire wing dedicated to them called Studio Cats. Here, video installations and interactive iPads made it clear that both Warhol and Weiwei had an interest for these feline creatures that posed great value to their creative processes.

During the exhibit, an event called Friday Nights at NGV was held every weekend to allow patrons to experience the show in a more social environment. A DJ was set up in the courtyard where people could lie on beanbags and have a few drinks. Once the sun went down, guests enjoyed music by various bands, such as the jazz group James Chance and the Contortions.

Guests at the exhibit

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By Moira Cotnoir
Photography by Moira Cotnoir

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