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June 30 - July 29, 2018
Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei was created by Sean Martindale during Ai Weiwei’s unjust detainment by Chinese authorities in the spring of 2011. Internationally acclaimed artist and activist, Ai Weiwei was first arrested in a widespread government sweep targeting politically outspoken individuals and their supporters. Since being allowed to travel outside of China in 2015, Ai Weiwei has been based in Berlin, Germany.
Martindale’s project calls attention not just to Ai Weiwei’s struggles, but also to the plight of others worldwide similarly persecuted for their political and artistic expression. The statue is made entirely out of salvaged cardboard Martindale collected in and around Toronto’s central Chinatown neighbourhood. The “Made in China” stamp playfully left visible on the sculpture’s cardboard base highlights Canada’s trade relationship with China and the interconnected, globalized nature of our world.
“Love the Future,” a phrase that in Chinese both looks and sounds like Ai Weiwei’s name, was used to circumvent government scrubbing and monitoring of his name on the Internet in China. Since 2011, Martindale’s Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei project has continued in the form of temporary public installations at events and sites of political significance around Toronto such as outside City Hall, Queen’s Park Legislature, and the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China. The project has also been exhibited at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, the Royal Ontario Museum for the 2012 opening of Hot Docs, Toronto City Hall for Asian Heritage Month 2012, Papier 12 in Montreal, and the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of Ai Weiwei: According to What?, Ai Weiwei’s exhibit in 2013. Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei continues to draw attention to the dangers many artists and political dissidents confront globally.
Sean Martindale is Harbourfront Centre’s inaugural Visual Artist-in-Residence in association with BRAVE: the Festival of Risk and Failure. Often using salvaged materials in his work, his acclaimed interdisciplinary practice is closely connected to the politics of public space. His interventions activate public spaces to encourage engagement, and often focus on ecological and social issues. Martindale’s playful works suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in urban environments.
Look out for more of Martindale’s projects, both old and new, installed around the Harbourfront Centre’s campus this year.