Ai Weiwei’s famous bicycle sculpture setting up in Austin

Ai WeiWei Bicycle installation in London (Photo via Austin Contemporary)
Ai WeiWei Bicycle installation in London (Photo via Austin Contemporary)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A world-renowned work of art has landed in downtown Austin. Workers are installing it now and once it’s complete, it will provide people in Austin a chance to see the sculpture that has been displayed in major cities across the country.

Ai Weiwei is the Chinese artist behind the “Forever Bicycles” sculpture, and some call him the most important artist working today. Weiwei is both an artist and a political activist who has been persecuted in his home country of China for speaking out against the government’s actions.

His sculpture has been displayed in other cities, but the way it’s being installed in Austin is unique. When the installation is finished, it will rise 32 feet and include nearly 1,300 bikes. The bikes form an archway where viewers can walk under it and look up to what is described as an optical track of the eye.

Ai WeiWei Bicycle installation in London (Photo via Austin Contemporary)
Ai WeiWei Bicycle installation in London (Photo via Austin Contemporary)

“It’s important for Austin because Austin is a top destination on the international scene when it comes to technology, when it comes to music, when it comes to so many things,” Nicole Chism Griffin with The Contemporary Austin says.

The Waller Creek Conservancy is thrilled the installation is right along the creek. “We have it right at the foot of the hike and bike trail and there will be cyclists and pedestrians walking by in droves every day,” says Griffin.

The sculpture design resonates deeply with the artist. While he was growing up in China, his family was not wealthy enough to afford a bicycle, now he has more than a thousand to share with others.

There will be a public opening June 3, 2017 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. including free refreshments and art activities for all ages. The Contemporary Austin says the artwork is in Austin on a long-term loan, but it doesn’t indicate when the installation will be moved.

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree Trunk, a 15-foot-high cast iron sculpture that resembles the hollowed-out remains of a dead, will also be on display at The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th Street.

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