Saturday, April 18, 2015

This Is The Rock

After numerous trips to SF, finally went to Alcatraz because of the art and we were glad we did.

The day broke deeply foggy, which was perfect, but had cleared to a lovely blue by afternoon. It was as cold as expected but when it comes to boats, we are sort of like dogs in cars- we want our faces in the wind.

The installation made specifically for Alcatraz is by Ai Weiwei, an artist who scares the Chinese government so much they put him in jail and continue to try to keep him suppressed but as he says, 

"The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a window sill."

The symbolism of the kite is pretty obvious and set in the decay of a decrepit prison with the sun streaming in the dirty windows, well, it was lovely.

My favorite kite panel.

In the next room, the faces of people who have been imprisoned because of they worked for freedom. The pixilation is because they are made entirely of Legos.

Dr. MLK and Snowden are here too, but for me the story is that there are so many dissidents I had never heard of, especially in the Arab world and in SE Asia. Some whose faces are here are still in prison, already dead or no one knows. 

Another part of the exhibit uses parts of Tibetan solar cookers to create a structure that looks sort of like a giant robot insect with tea pots attached. It can only be viewed through the broken glass of the walkway where armed guards looked down on the prison workshop. (Not easily photographed)

There was also audio installation in solitary and ceramic flowers in the prison psyc ward. 

Add to that the usual prison tour and we spent 4 hours and could have stayed longer but our parking meter back on shore was ticking away. 

On a lighter note, I had to laugh at the display of prisoner pastimes which included not only Mark's much-loved baseball, but cribbage, a game we have played now for 37 years. 

All in all, very impressive and we are glad to have made it here in time. The exhibit closes by the end of the month and I asked a docent what was going to happen to this, as it really is a very site specific work, and he said he wasn't sure but parts of it may go on elsewhere. 

Perhaps the Lego floor is our new AIDS quilt. 

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