@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

Exhibition on View September 27, 2014 – April 26, 2015

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The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned for work that defies the distinction between art and activism. In this exhibition of new works created specifically for Alcatraz, Ai responds to the island’s layered legacy as a 19th-century military fortress, a notorious federal penitentiary, a site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks. Revealing new perspectives on Alcatraz, the exhibition raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights that resonate far beyond this particular place.

Ai's sculpture, sound, and mixed-media installations occupy four locations in the former prison: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. With the exception of the Dining Hall, these areas are usually restricted to the public, but all are open throughout the run of the exhibition. @Large turns Alcatraz into a space for dialogue about how we define liberty and justice, individual rights and personal responsibility. The artworks directly and imaginatively address the situation of people around the world who have been deprived of their freedom for speaking out about their beliefs — people like Ai himself.

A vocal critic of his nation’s government, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days in 2011, and is still not permitted to travel outside China. As a result, the artist was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of this exhibition; he developed the artwork at his studio in Beijing, with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation. But constraints have only galvanized the artist’s commitment to art as an act of conscience. With this project, he aims to expand our understanding of "the purpose of art, which is the fight for freedom."

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz is presented by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Lead support for the exhibition is provided by Roger Evans and Aey Phanachet and by the Fisher family.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz will be on view on Alcatraz Island from September 27, 2014 through April 26, 2015.


Admission to @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz is included at no additional cost as part of the Alcatraz Island tour ticket price. Individuals may purchase tickets up to three months in advance of their visit. Tickets are on sale on a rolling three-month calendar. For example, tickets for April 1, 2015 do not become available until January 1, 2015. Given Alcatraz’s popularity, it is suggested you purchase tickets several weeks in advance.

Groups of 15 or more should contact Alcatraz Cruises Group Services Department at (415) 438-8361 or via email at groups@alcatrazcruises.com.


In anticipation of high demand for @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz tickets, a limited number of seats on the Early Bird boat (departing Pier 33 at 8:45 a.m.) will be set aside each day to accommodate exhibition visitors. To reserve tickets or to check availability, please go to www.awwtickets.eventbrite.com.

(NOTE: these reserved tickets are not available through Alcatraz Cruises.) Early Bird exhibition tickets are $50 for adults and juniors, $38.25 for children (5-11) and $48.25 for seniors (62+). These tickets include a special greeting and an exhibition-related commemorative gift, as well as regular Alcatraz admission and the Cellhouse Audio Tour.

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