Bamboo, sisal twine and silk /
2040 x 453 x 260 cm /
Courtesy of the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin /
Beginning in 2013, Ai Weiwei began creating works in the medium of bamboo through traditional kite making techniques. The works are produced in the Chinese town of Weifang in Shandong Province, where the tradition of kite-making dates back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
The first set of works in bamboo was the installation titled With Wind, exhibited in the “@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz” exhibition in San Francisco in 2014. This was followed by the Shanhaijing works, first exhibited in Paris’ Le Bon Marché in 2016. In Life Cycle, the third set of works in bamboo, Ai reinterprets the motif of the zodiac boat through the language of kite-making, crafting the largescale boat and human figures using bamboo and sisal twine.
The figures in the boat also have the heads of the twelve animals of Chinese Zodiac. Its concept was originated from Law of the Journey (2016), which is one of Ai’s sculptural responses to the global refugee crisis and made in black PVC plastic and inflatable, mirroring the shoddy boats used by refugees to reach Europe.