Ai Weiwei returns to New York with powerful shows at Deitch Projects, Mary Boone, and Lisson.
Thousands of articles of clothing, neatly draped from wire hangers on dozens of rolling racks, are arranged across the sprawling main space at Deitch Projects in SoHo. They are labeled and sorted by category and size: One rack brims with tiny, child-sized jackets; one with men’s briefs and boxers; another with vests, blouses, and pullovers. Were it not for the fact that some shoes are missing their match, this could have been the contents of a secondhand clothing store. In reality, it’s all clothing left behind after the forced evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp, on the border of Greece and Macedonia. Now, it’s the crux of The Laundromat, the most ambitious of four new Ai Weiwei shows that opened simultaneously last week in New York.
1. Lisson’s installation will feature “felled, cast-iron tree trunks, nearly 16 feet in length, and a series of iron root sculptures set against the backdrop of a new wallpaper installation,” according to a press release. The gallery notes that the work should aesthetically intermingle nicely with the beams of the High Line, under which the gallery is located.
2. The show at Mary Boone’s Chelsea gallery will also play with these ideas through Tree, “weathered sections of dead trees that have been brought down from the mountains of Southern China and bolted together in the form of a whole”.
3. Uptown, Boone will host a room-sized installation in wood, porcelain, wallpaper and Lego bricks.
4. Deitch Projects’ show The Laundromat, at his newly reopened gallery on Wooster Street in SoHo, will present cleaned, cast-off clothing left by refugees after Greek police evacuated the makeshift Idomeni camp along the Macedonian border in May.