Visit of Alcatraz and @Large – Ai Weiwei’s new exhibit

» Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Featured, photo spot, San Francisco

Friday evening, my wife and I went to see the exhibit of Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz island. We choose the evening tour because it let us combine the exhibit and an a photoshoot of the city with the Christmas light from Alcatraz.

The tour boat left at 3:20pm with plenty of time for looking at the exhibit before the sunset at 4:51pm. December is the best month to go to Alcatraz to photograph the city’s christmas lights. It’s a unique vintage point and relatively close. I love doing panorama of the city while there. You need to sign up for an evening tour otherwise you have to leave the island before 5pm. Only evening tour people can stay and take the last boat of the day at 6:40pm.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

One of the side benefit of seeing the @Large exhibit is the fact that it is in an area normally closed to the public.

The old workshop, still close to the public.

The old workshop, still close to the public.

The first part of the work is shown in the New Industry building, which used to be the area where inmates worked. When we arrived, the sun was setting right thru those windows overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, the light inside was fantastic.

Visitor looking at the sign-up book in one of the room of the New Industry building on Alcatraz

Visitor looking at the sign-up book in one of the room of the New Industry building on Alcatraz

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz With Wind

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz
With Wind

The first piece you see is this almost 150ft long kite with a dragon head. It’s positioned right at the entrance, with a spot of light to make it stand out (that’s the top image). The dragon is curled inside the entire room.

The second room is this immense workroom where over 1 million Legos have been used to build portraits of 176 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated at the time the artwork was made.

Portraits of 176 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated at the time the artwork was made.

Portraits of 176 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated at the time the artwork was made.

The room is big and it will take you some time to look at each portraits.

Trace.

Trace.

The second part of the exhibit is the reflection portion and it will require to walk in the guard section (it’s in the lower gun gallery). I choose not to photograph it because you need to see it in person. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real birds’ wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective panels originally used on solar cookers in Tibet, a region that has long struggled under Chinese rule.

The last portion is in Block A of the penitentiary and in the hospital. Those pieces are sound-based, so you will have to go and experienced it by yourself. The hospital is normally off-limit and is really cool to see. Unfortunately we went to late and it was so dark inside that taking pictures was out of the question.

The hospital room, usually close to the public

The hospital room, usually closed to the public

I had to rush my visit to get near the lighthouse to photograph the city at night. I was worried that the storm that hit the Bay Area in Thursday and Friday morning would ruin my plans. Luckily the storm moved out in the afternoon created a very interested sunset.

One of my favorite view point to capture the city lights.

One of my favorite view point to capture the city lights.

The exhibit is open until April 26, 2015. I highly recommend going, it’s fantastic.
More information: http://www.for-site.org/project/ai-weiwei-alcatraz/
Tickets: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/ai-weiwei.aspx