If you haven’t visited Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California recently, you might get a huge surprise not knowing that artist Ai Weiwei has taken over most of the landmark with custom art installations that explore human rights and freedom of expression. Although there are seven sculptures, sound, and mixed-media works, the most captivating of them all can be seen when you enter the medical wing to find that the bathrooms have been transformed with floral arrangements in the “Blossoms” exhibit.
The exhibit is an attempt by Weiwei, who is legally unable to leave China because of accusations of tax invasion, engulf the understanding that “the purpose of art is the fight for freedom” and that “the misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.” On an aesthetic level, the flowers are beautiful: white, delicate and growing in abundance through the dirty crevices. They are in striking contrast to the cold, haunting rooms, that boast so sad and sinister a history.
Weiwei’s @Large exhibition will remain intact until April 26, 2015, so be sure to make it over to the San Francisco landmark before then and/or learn more over at AnOther.