Controversial Chinese Artist and activist Ai Weiwei Showcases Bathroom Fixtures at Alcatraz Transformed into Porcelain Floral Bouquets

Controversial Chinese Artist and activist Ai Weiwei currently has an exhibition on Alcatraz, the notorious island used as a military fortress and federal penitentiary.

Amongst a large body of work created specifically for Alcatraz is “Blossom,” which has been installed in several hospital ward cells and medical offices. And as its name suggests, intricately detailed encrustations of ceramic flowers are blossoming out of sinks, toilets and tubs that were once used by hospitalized prisoners.

The curator offers two possibilities in interpreting Ai’s porcelain blossoms: a symbolic offering of comfort to the imprisoned or perhaps an ironic nod to China’s famous Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956. But to understand the piece we think this quote by Ai himself is all you really need: “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.” Ai Weiwei’s exhibition on Alcatraz will be open through April 26, 2015.

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