Ai Weiwei, Famed Chinese Artist/Activist, Is Coming to Philadelphia

Weiwei is the most notable artist participating in Monument Lab, a series of pop-up installations in 10 Philly parks later this year.

Ai Weiwei

Photo courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio

The Mural Arts Program announced on Wednesday that world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei, known as much for his clashes with the Chinese government as his artwork, will be coming to Philadelphia as part of Monument Lab.

Monument Lab is a Mural Arts project in which artists will create 10 pop-up art installations in Philadelphia’s parks this fall. Per a release, Monument Lab will “engage diverse artists to explore Philadelphia’s identity through temporary public art projects, a bold update to monument-making aligned to the needs and opportunities of the present day. Through the process it will foster connection, shared understanding, and in some cases healing, through robust public engagement and programs.”

The exhibitions will take place September 16th through November 19th.

“Our curators have assembled an inspiring list of artists to come to Philadelphia and express a wide range of visions that reflect on our city’s history and imagine our future,” Mural Arts director Jane Golden said in a release. “Mural Arts is excited to bring this work to the public and engage everyone in discussing critical issues facing our city today.”

Monument Lab has been curated by Mural Arts in collaboration with Paul Farber, Ken Lum, and A. Will Brown. The projects will be placed in the city’s original five public squares (Washington, Rittenhouse, Center/City Hall, Logan, and Franklin) as well as five neighborhood parks (Penn Treaty Park, Vernon Park, Norris Square, Malcolm X Park, and Marconi Plaza).

The contents of Weiwei’s project have not yet been disclosed. Tania Bruguera will create a monument to the “new immigrant,” Tyree Guyton’s project will discuss opioid addiction and recovery, and Zoe Strauss will ask questions about ownership of public space.

“From Ai Weiwei to Zoe Strauss, Hank Willis Thomas to Shira Walinsky and Southeast by Southeast, we are excited to announce an artist roster that seeks a diversity of ideas, identities, and monumental approaches to engaging Philadelphia’s history,” said Farber, the lead curator. “These artists draw on their own deep connections to the city, and spark reflection on our core values and visions. With temporary monuments and adjacent research labs for public dialogue, our goal is to change the ways we write the history of our city together.”

The full list of artists, as provided by Mural Arts, is below.

  • Ai Weiwei, Berlin/Beijing
  • Tania Bruguera, Havana/New York City/Cambridge
  • Mel Chin, Egypt, North Carolina
  • Kara Crombie, Philadelphia
  • Tyree Guyton, Detroit
  • Hans Haacke, New York City
  • David Hartt, Philadelphia
  • Sharon Hayes, Philadelphia
  • King Britt and Joshua Mays, Philadelphia and Oakland
  • Klip Collective, Philadelphia
  • Duane Linklater, North Bay, Ontario
  • Emeka Ogboh, Lagos/Berlin
  • Karyn Olivier, Philadelphia
  • Michelle Angela Ortiz, Philadelphia
  • Kaitlin Pomerantz, Philadelphia
  • RAIR featuring Abigail DeVille, Philadelphia and New York City
  • Alexander Rosenberg, Philadelphia
  • Jamel Shabazz, New York City
  • Zoe Strauss, Philadelphia
  • Hank Willis Thomas, New York City
  • Shira Walinsky and Southeast by Southeast, Philadelphia
  • Marisa Williamson, New York City