Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983–1993

Ai Weiwei, Lower East Side 198? 

After being held for 80 days without charge, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was freed yesterday and the world will now watch the next steps of this notorious government critic.

Before Ai Weiwei became internationally recognized as an artist and activist, he lived in a tiny apartment in New York’s East Village, and was a prominent member of a community of expatriate Chinese artists and intellectuals in the neighborhood’s then burgeoning avant-garde scene.

Throughout those years, from 1983 to 1993, the artist used his camera to document his life and work, his surroundings, and the atmosphere of the time. The photographs document a distinct era in New York, as seen through Ai Weiwei’s eyes, tracing the beginnings of his conceptual art practice.

The New York I knew no longer exists …. Looking back on the past, I can see that these photographs are facts, but not necessarily true….The present always surpasses the past, and the future will not care about today.” — Ai Weiwei, 2008

From June 29 through August 14, 2011, Asia Society Museum will present the New York Photographs series comprises a selection of 227 photographs from Ai’s archive of 10,000, selected by the artist.

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