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Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Rapture: Ai Weiwei Major Exhibition in Lisbon Opens

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Ai Weiwei’s “Rapture,” opened over the weekend at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon. On display through November 28, the exhibition explores the transcendent moment that connects this earthly dimension with a spiritual one.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Included are 85 works by the Chinese dissident artist and activist, like large- and small-scale installations and sculptures, as well as videos, films, and photos. Curated by Marcello Dantas, “Rapture” is divided into two themes: fantasy and reality. The side of fantasy, where the search for the imaginary is explored, while the other side focuses on the emergency of issues in our climate, like the worsening of the human conditions for political, social, and
environmental reasons.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Ai Weiwei offers us a closer, in-depth look into the essential questions that affect all peoples, such as, where did we come from? And what are we doing here?. “Ai Weiwei is like a tree, both antenna and root at the same time: an antenna that attracts lightning, a root that connects with the deepest origins of his culture,” said Dantas.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

This first exhibition in Portugal feels personal for the artist, as he now lives in Alentejo. In “Rapture,” visitors will find four new works that incorporate Portuguese culture and tradition, using materials like cork, tiles, fabrics, and stone, all created in partnership with local craftspeople and workshops. Other major works on view include the monumental sculpture of 960 bicycles, Forever Bicycles (2015); Snake Ceiling (2009), addressing the hundreds of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake; Law of the Journey (Prototype B) (2016) relating to the current refugee crisis; and the documentary Coronation depicting the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Rapture” at Cordoaria Nacional in Lisbon, photo by Aurélien Caoudal.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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