Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is to present his work as a commentary on design and what it reveals about our changing values in a new exhibition at the Design Museum in London next year.
Titled Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, the exhibition will draw on the artist’s “fascination with historical Chinese artefacts, placing their traditional craftsmanship in dialogue with the more recent history of demolition and urban development in China”.
Some of his most important works will be displayed alongside collections of objects that have never been seen before.
The exhibition, which runs from April 7 to July 30, will also feature new commissions.
The artist, best known for working on the design of Beijing’s Olympic stadium and filling the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with hand-crafted, porcelain sunflower seeds in 2010, is an outspoken critic of China’s human rights record.
Other exhibitions announced as part of the Design Museum’s 2023 programme include The Offbeat Sari, which will “unravel” the numerous forms of the garment, demonstrating it to be “a metaphor for the layered and complex definitions of India today”.
Curated by Priya Khanchandani, the museum’s head of curatorial and interpretation, the exhibition will bring together, on loan, dozens of the “finest saris of our time from designers, wearers and craftspeople in India”.
Also announced is Skateboard, an exhibition which will map the design evolution of the skateboard from the 1950s to today.
Design Museum director and chief executive Tim Marlow said: “With saris, skateboards and a spellbinding show by Ai Weiwei, 2023 is going to be one of the most ground-breaking of years in recent memory at the Design Museum.
“As the world’s leading museum of contemporary design, we are uniquely placed to explore these compelling global stories which highlight the sometimes playful but invariably decisive role of design in so many aspects of our lives.
“We’re delighted that Ai Weiwei will present his first major design-focused exhibition here at the Design Museum.
“He is clearly one of the most important artists in the world, but his practice also profoundly embraces design and architecture, and the cultural and political impact of his work will resonate in very different ways throughout this collaborative landmark exhibition.”