Trace @Large Ai Weiwei Part 2

 Posted by on January 14, 2015
Jan 142015

Alcatraz Island
September 27, 2014 to April 26, 2015

Trace by Ai Weiwei

This is Trace.  The most ambitious, the most highly touted, the most written about, and yet, in my opinon, the one that least lived up to expectations.

Ai Wei Wei

This entire project is made of 1.2 MILLION LEGO blocks.

Ai WeiWei Lego

It took a long time for the committee that put this together to decide who should be in it. Ai Weiwei selected these individuals based on information provided by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, he has called them “the heroes of our time”.  The group also consisted of  independent research members of the artist’s studio and the For-Site Foundation.  The images of these people that were used were in the public domain.

Ai Weiwei has a large team of artists that work with him in China.  These artists pixelated the images and then built a mockup out of LEGOs.  Ai Weiwei had the final say on the image that was used in the exhibit.

The artist has never set foot on Alcatraz, so a team of over 80 volunteers assembled the 176 portraits. A blueprint for each portrait was created digitally and then split into four or more parts so that volunteers could work on them without revealing the final images ahead of the show.

ALCATRAZ exhibit

While very impressive, there was no in-depth guide book for one to walk around with, or to purchase, for that matter.  There were books along the edges explaining the lives of each person and why they were chosen, but when there are 176 portraits, and my knowledge of the incarcerated of the world so naive, I felt the need for a guide book.  YES, you can find them all  on-line here, but the lack of something to walk around with, contemplate and educate at the same time left me wanting.

Alcatraz Ai weiwei



Lolo – China
Convicted of unspecified charges. Lolo is a well-known Tibetan singer. He was arrested shortly after the release of his 2012 album of songs calling for Tibetan independence. It is likely that he was charged with splittism, a catch-all offense that allows the Chinese authorities to punish ethnic minorities defending their rights. In 2013 he was sentenced to six years in prison.


The area is divided by world region and walking amongst always leaves you with an excellent view of each.

Shiva Nazar

Shiva Nazar Ahari

Shiva Nazar Ahari – Iran
Arrested on charges of waging war against God, propagation against the regime, actions against national security, and disrupting the public order. Ahari is a journalist and human rights activist and a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, which campaigns against a wide range of human rights violations in Iran. In 2012 she began serving a four-year prison term.

Ai Weiwei


Saif Zadeh

Mohammad Seifzadeh


Mohammad Seifzadeh – Iran
Charged with collusion and assembly with intent to disrupt internal security, propagation activities against the regime, and establishing the Center for Human Rights Defenders. Seifzadeh is a lawyer, former judge, and human rights activist. In October 2010 he was sentenced to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban from practicing law.


I have no reason for choosing the people I have highlighted, I just found their images photographically appealing.