An Interview with Ai Weiwei on Jail Time, Activism, & “Trace”

Ai Weiwei's Trace at Skirball Cultural Center

Installation View of Trace featuring the artist's portrait at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center.

A turbulent passage in artist and activist Ai Weiwei's life is reflected in Trace, LEGO likenesses highlighting brave figures like Seng-Aloun Phengphanh and Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, members of a Laotian student pro-democracy group sentenced to twenty years for hanging posters. The show first exhibited, appropriately enough, at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco in 2014.

It has since traveled to D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum and now, through August 1, is at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center in a version scaled down from 176 to 83 portraits covering the floor of a gallery wallpapered with The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca, a pattern mixing surveillance cameras, alpacas (an internet meme for freedom of expression in China), and the Twitter logo, (look closely for the artist’s self-portrait).

Event Information
Start Date: May 15, 2021
End Date: August 1, 2021
Venue: Skirball Cultural Center

Ai Weiwei's Trace at Skirball Cultural Center