10th wedding anniversary – with david bowie and ai weiwei

so doug and i finally made it – this past friday, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

the weekend didn’t go exactly as originally planned. while we had already arranged for chaeli to stay with my parents as we booked massages and manicures at The Old Mill Spa for Saturday, and bought tickets to see David Bowie Is… and According to What? at the AGO, my cousins from vancouver were visiting this past week so Friday night, we had dinner with them and my side of the family. then saturday night, there was a last minute invite for a thanksgiving turkey feast (and food drive) in oakville with friends (including rita, harry and kids who were visiting from the states).

while doug and i never got to do an anniversary dinner, we made most of our daytime spent together.

Art Gallery of Ontario

winding staircase of AGO atrium

first off, David Bowie Is… was well worth the bus, rapid transit and subway ride downtown. neither doug or i have been back to the art gallery since all the work had been done to transform it to the beautiful structure it is now (i speak mostly of the work inside – not sure how i feel about the outside, to be honest).

being a big fan of classic bowie, i had a great time listening to the audio tour (which included a lot of his earlier tunes). but like his music or not, one can’t help but to respect how much influence he’s been for 5 decades as an artist. you learn how much work he put into his career. and how he even fictionalized himself as different characters for different themes and albums.

the design of the exhibit was good except doug and i both noted that there were a few small rooms which became over-crowded very quickly. sometimes, the audio also did not kick in and we had to sort of dance around within an area in order to figure out where the optimal place was to stand in order to trigger the respective audio track. still – these small flaws were not that grand and did not wreck our experience that day.

Ai Weiwei - According to What?

Moon Chest by Ai Weiwei

after the bowie exhibit, we went straight to ai weiwei’s According to What? exhibit.

this exhibit did not disappoint. and thankfully, ada had suggested that i watch the documentary, Never Sorry (on netflix) before seeing the exhibit. i admit that prior to nuit blanche 2013 when we saw his Forever Bycicles, i knew nothing of ai weiwei (aside from his Bird’s Next stadium at the Beijing Olympics).

Ai Weiwei -

Grapes by Ai Weiwei

it was almost emotional as we found our way to the first of two large, grand rooms. the first wall to our left was the list of 5000 plus childrem that died during the massive earthquake in poorly structured ‘tofu’ schools. weiwei was furious at the government’s choice to not release the number of school age children who lost their lives that day, feeling that this was information the people of china had the right to know, thereby starting many of his actions which lead to his house arrest and being detained in china (as well as a hit on the head from the police that caused a serious brain swelling).

Ai Weiwei -

Straight by Ai Weiwei

another emotional project was the 150 tonnes steel rebar rods he collected from many of the schools that were destroyed by the earthquake.  a tremendous amount of work went into straightening each one back to it’s original form then put together, laid out across a vast space of the floor.

standing infront of it, and as i walked around this huge display, i can only describe it as this eerie and haunting representation of the children and teachers who lost their lives that day. the jagged distruption that went down the middle, for me, symbolized the failure of these structures (and therefore, the government) to protect the citizan’s safety. i think weiwei was trying to show his broken country through this piece.

Ai Weiwei -

Colored Vases (front) and Dropped (back) by Ai Weiwei

view complete photo set of the According to What? exhibit.

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