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Newseum and Hirshhorn celebrate freedom with three-night projection of the art and words of Ai Weiwei
An art projection by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei appears on the 74-foot marble First Amendment tablet on the exterior of the Newseum in Washington, DC, on January 17, 2013. Ai is recognized as an advocate of universal human rights and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's stance on democracy. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB.
WASHINGTON, DC.- The Newseum, in partnership with the Hirshhorn Museum, is presenting a projection featuring images and quotes by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Ai is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's stance on democracy whose advocacy of universal human rights complements the Newseum's mission to champion freedom of speech and expression for all people.

Visible from Pennsylvania Avenue and parts of the National Mall, the projection appears on the 74-foot-tall marble First Amendment tablet on the exterior of the Newseum. It features the trio of images from one of Ai's most recognizable works, "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn," 1995/2009, as well as quotes from the artist about freedom of expression and the importance of individual engagement and action within society. Projected over the 45 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the powerful images and quotes draw attention to the important freedoms all Americans enjoy. The projection appears from Jan. 17 to 19, beginning at 7 p.m. each night.

A celebrated artist recognized for his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the "Bird's Nest" stadium at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Ai has become known for his political activism, which he often accomplishes through his art and through his embrace of the Internet and social media.

The work featured in the Newseum projection is a photographic triptych documenting Ai's destruction of a piece of pottery that was deemed valuable because it was made roughly 2,000 years ago. The piece raises issues about cultural values as well as iconoclasm and artistic tradition. Some of his other controversial displays have explored the aftermath of the deadly 2008 Sichuan province earthquake and governmental censorship in China.

"Ai Weiwei: According to What?" — the first North American survey of the artist's work — will be on view at the Hirshhorn Museum through Feb. 24, 2013.





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