While several other works in the exhibition expanded visitors’ awareness of prisoners of conscience around the world, this installation in the Dining Hall offered visitors the opportunity to correspond directly and personally with individual prisoners. Visitors were invited to write postcards addressed to some of the detainees represented in Trace, the series of portraits in the New Industries Building. The postcards were adorned with images of birds and plants from the nations where the prisoners are held. Cards were gathered and mailed by @Large Art Guides.
Ai Weiwei has spoken of the deep feeling of isolation that afflicts incarcerated people. He says that political prisoners often fear that they — and the causes they fought for — have been forgotten by the outside world. This work was a response to those concerns, reminding detainees that they are remembered — and reminding exhibition visitors of the detainees’ individuality and humanity. In the spirit of free expression, visitors may write any message they wish. Yours Truly brought home ideas at the heart of the exhibition: the responsibilities that we all bear as members of a community, and the importance of communication as both a personal expression and a force for social change.
For information about individual prisoners, visit the Trace page.
The exhibit inspired the production of FOR-SITE’s feature-length documentary film, Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly.
- Installation Views
Ai Weiwei is a Beijing-based artist and activist whose work encompasses sculpture, installation, photography, film, architecture, curation, and social criticism. His art has been featured in major solo exhibitions including Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, UK, 2014; Evidence at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2014; and Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which was organized by the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, in 2009, and traveled to North American venues in 2013–14. Ai collaborated with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the “bird’s nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2015.