This year’s art coup, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, is a series of seven site-specific multimedia installations designed by renowned Beijing artist Ai Weiwei. The Alcatraz exhibit explores human rights and incarceration as a form of repression. Here, five facts to know before you go:
1. Ai Weiwei is forbidden to leave China and completed the project remotely from his Beijing studio. He has never visited Alcatraz, so he relied on maps, archival materials, photographs and video footage provided by volunteers to create his work.
2. You get to venture into Alcatraz territory that was previously off limits to the public (the New Industries Building, hospital, psychiatric cells and cell block A).
3. Trace, a collection of 176 portraits of political prisoners, is made up of 1.2 million Legos (at a cost of $460,000) and was assembled by 80-plus volunteers at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.
4. Refraction, modeled after a bird’s wing, is made up of reflective panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers.
5. At Ai Weiwei’s request, Wi-Fi has been installed for the first time on Alcatraz to incite a social media frenzy and global conversation. #AiWeiweiAlcatraz
@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz is on view through April 26, 2015; for-site.org