Reactor

Ai Weiwei’s Portrait Projected on NYC Chinese Consulate

by Kyle Chayka on May 23, 2011

Still of Geandy Pavon's “Nemesis Ai Weiwei”

UPDATE: We have just interviewed the artist, Geandy Pavon, and you can read the full Q&A here.

On this past Friday May 20, Cuban artist Geandy Pavon did a guerrilla projection protest for Ai Weiwei. In this work, called “Nemesis Ai Weiwei: The Elusiveness of Being”, Pavon projected Ai’s face onto the blank street-side facade of the New York City Chinese Consulate. Click through for video documentation of the project.

In the video (seen below), Pavon appears to be standing in the bushes near the bike path running along Twelfth Ave, just across the road from the Chinese Consulate (520 Twelfth Ave). Pavon manipulates a pool of liquid sitting on top of the projector until the image becomes clear, and suddenly Ai’s face appears ten stories tall. A group of bikers stops by to compliment his work.

The piece is part of Pavon’s Nemesis project, original conceived to “protest and bring to light the death in a hunger strike of Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo while in custody of the Cuban government,” the artist writes in a press release. “The concept of the project is to impose the face of the victim on buildings walls that house government offices … The light on the wall is a symbol of revelation.” Find some details of the earlier Nemesis project in this National Review article. Ai’s face appears like a visitation, a message from a figure currently unable to communicate openly.

It’s incredibly gutsy for Pavon to have gone right to the source to protest so directly. The “Nemesis Ai Weiwei” piece created a much more iconic single image than the 1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei protest, and that one image is a powerful thing — an artist who is perceived as an enemy by the Chinese government suddenly appearing on their political ground in the United States.

Related:

  • The Guardian has published an important article on the members of Ai Weiwei’s circle who remain missing and have not yet been heard from. These include reporter Wen Tao, driver Zhang Jinsong, accountant Hu Mingfen and designer Liu Zhenggang.
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  • amelialouise

    incredibly badass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ravzmarwaha Ravneet Kaur

    WOW!

  • Adam Cahan

    cool. it does make me wonder if, not so much the artist, but his audience indulges in a fetishization of foreign repression. i mean, project this:

    http://www.laweekly.com/2011-05-26/news/men-s-county-jail-visitor-viciously-beaten-by-guards/

    these dudes don’t get projection. i’m definitely not calling out the artist, or anything like that – i liked his work! but i do think the projection of our concern outwards is related to a lack of concern with what is inward. like in our jails. BTW, the LA downtown jail complex is the biggest in the world. Our hellhole is bigger than China’s biggest hellhole. Which, of course, doesn’t preclude a solidarity with Wewei. If anything, it increases it.

    http://www.keepbailing.com/2009/03/the-world%E2%80%99s-largest-jail%E2%80%A6-right-here-in-los-angeles/

  • Adam Cahan

    fyi my first link said ‘Visitor to Men’s County Jail Viciously Beaten by Guards.’ Happened in LA.

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