AI WEIWEI: Suffering of the Animal from Gaza ZOO shown at Israel Museum

Ai, Weiwei, Jerusalem, Israel, Museum
Ai at the opening of Maybe, Maybe Not at the Israel Museum 2017

Sunburned and in a good mood, currently the hottest artist on Earth Ai Weiwei installed two fiery red iron trees to permanently frame the view on Shrine of the Book – a dome keeping famous Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
– As Ai always installs one Iron Tree, we also asked just for one tree, but artist insisted that we set up two pieces, said Mira Lapidot, curator of his exhibition Maybe, Maybe Not.

Unique setting of two Iron Trees now frames The Shrine of the Book 

– That does not mean we had to pay just for one, she complained, which was welcomed with a big applause, as it is known that Ai is donating large amount of the income to the human rights organization B’Tselem.


But much more exciting was Ai’s another new exhibit: an unprecedented move of bringing the theme of suffering animal into the high art gallery next to Picasso and ancient mummies and religious artifacts is a slap to the social media which, with an excuse of “being concerned for the public’s sensitivity”, often bans or blurs videos showing the theme to it’s users – a perfect way to disable people from taking any action.

Still from the exhibit about tiger Laziz in ‘hellhole ZOO’ in Gaza

The visitors are seduced to the piece by the sound of wild birds singing, coming from a dark hall… But it turns out it is the auditory part of shocking high-quality aerial footage of stressed animal, which doesn’t give up from running in circles in effort to find an exit from a dirty dry enclosure exposed to a strong Middle eastern sun rays, where part of the fence and bars do offer some shade for the animal to cool down & rest. Despite that – the animal is restless and doesn’t give up in checking if somehow some exit appeared on the sunny side of his cage.
Tiger Laziz’s situation not only sends message about every living being’s natural need to escape horrible conditions, but the animal’s persistence with the effort and expressive patterns of it’s movement show how much madness is created by unreasonable captivity in inhumane conditions, leaving the viewer deeply touched, and hopefully motivated to act against it.
Ai Weiwei provided some motivation during the speech with a curator as well, earning another big applause:  – We gave a donation to the animal activists, just like everybody else who does it to feel better until they forget about some upsetting situation… But at the end, the activists did manage to rescue the animal for good!

To be precise, tiger Laziz, former captive in cage of “the worst ZOO on earth” in Gaza, was rescued and transferred to a 10,000-square-meter enclosure in South Africa, where he can enjoy swimming and climbing.
Besides giving strong back wind for animal activists around the world, the exhibition also displays pieces previously shown elsewhere, about world’s refugee’s “Odyssey”, disastrous cultural policies in China and it’s influence on the West. It’s opened until the end of October.

Odyssey, 2016

Kippe, 2006
Study of Perspective, 1995-2011