The iconoclastic art of China's Ai Weiwei overlooks the parade route Obama will soon walk.
Prohibited from leaving his native country by the Chinese Communist Party, artist and activist Ai Weiwei has remained far from "Ai Weiwei: According to What?," the retrospective of his work currently on exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. But in the days leading up to Monday's presidential inauguration, the artist's presence is being made visible in the nation's capital in another way.
Starting last Thursday night and continuing through tonight, images from Ai's 1995 work "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn" are being projected onto the outside wall of the Newseum, overlooking the Pennsylvania Avenue route that President Obama will walk Monday afternoon. The controversial work is striking enough on its own, but takes on new depth in the context of this weekend's pomp, circumstance, and democratic transition.
Beginning at 7 p.m. each night, the work—made up of three black and white images in which Ai drops and breaks a roughly 2,000-year-old urn—is superimposed onto a 74-foot-tall marble tablet inscribed with the words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The three sections of the iconic triptych are presented in slideshow form and interspersed with quotes from Ai on the value of freedom and the importance of challenging the establishment.