By Jean Hinkley, MA 2016-17
September 23 marked the opening of “Libero” at Palazzo Strozzi – a retrospective of the controversial Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. Curated by Arturo Galansino, the exhibition plays with the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, old and new, the individual and the collective. Fortunately, the MA Museum Studies students had the opportunity to attend the exhibition opening!
Palazzo Strozzi offered a unique contrast to the contemporary installations of Ai WeiWei. As we waited to get through the first roped off section, we had a chance to admire the rusticated architecture of the palace, where rafts hung over the palace windows. Then in the courtyard, we eyed a sculpture composed of steel, teakettles, and perhaps car hoods? We surpassed the last roped off section and were free to roam the exhibition. However, most of Ai WeiWei’s installations were politically based and controversial due to this nature, some were playful and fun. Portraits of famous Florentines – Dante and Galileo – constructed from Legos were a big hit with the group!
Although Palazzo Strozzi is an old palace from the 15th century, the curators transformed the space into an exhibition where you didn’t feel as if you were in an old palace, but in the mind of Ai WeiWei – this in part, thanks to the wallpaper covering the exhibition walls.
As someone that had never been to an exhibition opening before, it was a night I won’t forget. The most memorable aspect to going to the exhibition opening was not getting dressed fancy, getting to see the art before others, but being able to witness the exhibition with fellow Museum Studies students that truly appreciate artwork and museum spaces. We were all very grateful to be able to attend this unique exhibition opening!
After seeing everything from bicycles to crabs, we couldn’t help but close the evening with selfie mirror fun with the “Artist” himself.
The exhibit runs until 22 January, 2017
Palazzo Strozzi is open daily including holidays 10.00-20.00; Thursdays 10.00-23.00