Ai Weiwei’s “Law of the Journey”

We recently went to see Ai Weiwei’s new exhibit, entitled “Law of the Journey” at the National Gallery. The exhibit is centered around the current refugee crisis, and depicts the display of a large raft, filled with people, or refugees, showing their means of escape. This large structure is accompanied by many quotes on the floor below it, translated in Chinese, Czech, and English. They are messages of empowerment and perfectly compliment the large, looming structure above it. Ai Weiwei, a refugee himself, decided to create this art piece to make a statement about the humanitarian crisis the world is currently facing; he wants to make a statement on the human condition and basic human rights. He explores the suffering that the refugees go through simply in search of a way to live, which everyone, as human beings, should have access to. Ai Weiwei illustrates his sculptural art work with a memorable quote: “logic may indeed be unshakable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live”.

He also exhibits a giant snake on the ceiling of the main entrance of the gallery, meaning to represent the many children who lost their lives during the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. Another memorable piece is the large figure depicting light cascading down its structure, made out of crystal beads. It is supposed to be showing a way into the future, seen as being optimistic, with the foundations of the past to carry it through in a positive way.  

These three art pieces are all large, looming structures. The architectural aspect of this represents the meaningful reason behind Ai Weiwei’s concept. Their magnitude shows that they are of importance and should not be ignored. They are all depicting objects and images that are common to us; this makes them relatable and easily understandable so the artist can spread his message across a wide range of audiences. They are also made up of many different structural components, and are placed in areas in which are easily interactable with the public, again reinforcing the different dimensions and importance behind their meanings.