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Ai Weiwei Photo Exhibit Opens at the Asia Society

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Self-Portrait," also taken in 1987. (Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art)

An exhibition of 227 black-and-white documentary photos taken by the controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in New York from 1983 to 1993 opened at the Asia Society on Wednesday. The show marks the first such exhibit presented outside China.

The opening of Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 has special significance. Just a week ago, Chinese authorities released Ai on bail, after he had been detained for nearly three months. Beijing tax authorities are seeking nearly $2 million in back taxes and fines from the artist, his close friend said Tuesday.

In the '80s and '90s, Ai called Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan's East Village home. With his camera, he documented what he saw around him — from beat poetry readings in the Village to AIDS protests to the city's Chinese expatriate scene.

The artist selected the 227 inkjet photos on view, which were printed on Fantac Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss paper sized 20 x 24 inches, from his archive of 10,000 shots.

Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 runs through Aug. 14. Click below to see images from the show.

The Asia Society Museum is located at 725 Park Ave, and is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 11 A.M to 6 P.M. Admission is $10 for adults; $7 for seniors $7, and $5 for students, members and persons under 16.

Basement of the World Trade Center in 1987.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
Basement of the World Trade Center in 1987.
Ai in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1983.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
Ai in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1983.
The film director Chen Kaige on the Lower East Side in 1986.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
The film director Chen Kaige on the Lower East Side in 1986.
The classical music composer Tan Dun in Ai's E. Third St. apartment in 1986.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
The classical music composer Tan Dun in Ai's E. Third St. apartment in 1986.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
"Mirror" taken by Ai in 1987.
A shot Ai Weiwei took in 1989 of the photographer Robert Frank and the beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
A shot Ai Weiwei took in 1989 of the photographer Robert Frank and the beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
"Self-Portrait," also taken in 1987.
A 1989 shot at a Tawana Brawley protest in 1988.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
A 1989 shot at a Tawana Brawley protest in 1988.
An AIDS protest in 1989.
Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Chambers Fine Art
An AIDS protest in 1989.

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