Standing Figure, 2016

19 May 2016

Standing Figure, 2016
Marble, 188 x 80 x 58 cm.
Photo: Paris Tavitian
©Museum of Cycladic Art

In a new work created specifically for the exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Ai builds a bridge between his practice and Greece’s history, engaging directly with the Museum’s permanent collection alongside of which his work now sits. Standing Figure is a marble colossus, a schematic, upright male figure with the smooth, angular features which characterise much of the sculpture of the Cycladic art. The work directly references marble figurines of the Spedos variety, which were prevalent during the Syros phase of the Early Cycladic period (2800-2300 BC). Its elegant, elongated oval head, triangular nose, slender body and small, wide-set breasts quote the style of the Goulandris Master to whom the popular vernacular of third millennium BC sculpture is attributed.

Ai adopts this icon of ancient culture and personalises it. The scale of the delicate figures is augmented dramatically to life-size, transforming the modest Cycladic models into a towering deity. The figure’s arms, which in the original Cycladic manner are crossed at the chest, are here outstretched, hands wide apart. This stance implies openness, but also visually references one of Ai’s most canonical works: his infamous photographic series Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. The three photographs show Ai, stoic-faced, letting an ancient urn from the Chinese Han dynasty (221–207 BC) slip from his outstretched hands and shatter on the ground at his feet.

The work references the willful destruction of China’s antique objects, taking place during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In Standing Figure, Ai is replaced by a life-sized artefact. The small Cycladic figurine is given agency and power, no longer a fragile, vulnerable trace of the past, but rather a powerful figure judging the destruction of heritage. As well as directly mimicking works from the Museum of Cycladic Art’s collection, Ai’s new work reflects on contemporary China and Greece, their identification and attachment to their pasts, and their different treatment of history.


Donation 10% of all exhibition proceeds to two NGOs

18 May 2016

The MCA will be donating 10% of all exhibition proceeds to two NGOs; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Greek NGO METAdrasi, who are providing valuable aid to the refugee crisis in Greece.

About Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

As an emergency medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) scaled up its operations in Europe since the beginning of 2015 by focusing on setting up mobile responses to attend to the needs of an unprecedented number of people on the move. In Greece, MSF is providing medical care to refugees and migrants since 2008. Since the beginning of 2015, MSF has assisted more than 17,800 people who risked their lives in the Aegean Sea, has treated medically more than 55,000 people and has offered humanitarian assistance to more than 88,000 refugees and migrants in Greece. At the moment, MSF is providing medical care, shelter, water sanitation services and distributing relief items to refugees and migrants arriving in the Dodecanese Islands as well as on Lesbos, Samos and Agathonisi, in Athens and at the Idomeni border crossing to FYROM.

About METAdrasi

METAdrasi is a Greek NGO founded in 2010 which helps facilitate the reception and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greece (  It is an Implementing Partner of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is focused on services not covered by the Public Authorities or other NGOs in Greece, mainly interpretation and protection of unaccompanied minors. METAdrasi is the only organization in Greece that has developed and implemented a curriculum for the training, certification and coordination of interpreters. Interpretation is provided both in the field and via a teleconference system, in 33 languages and dialects. METAdrasi has also developed four key innovative initiatives that make up a safety network for unaccompanied children in Greece: Escorting missions from border detention centers to suitable accommodation facilities on the mainland, transit accommodation facilities, in Lesvos and Samos, Guardianship, Foster Care and legal support.


Iphone Wallpaper 2016

17 May 2016

Since 2005, Ai Weiwei has used the internet and social media platforms prolifically as a primary mode of communication and exchange with hundreds of thousands of followers across the world. He treats blogs, Twitter and Instagram as democratic spaces which allow for free speech and expression, providing a space to be critically political, start conversations, and raise awareness.

Recently, image rather than word has become particularly predominant for the artist; since his first visit to Lesbos, he has posted hundreds of daily photos and videos, mostly candid shots providing insights into the living conditions within the camps. The Iphone Wallpaper is a collage of 12,030 images taken by the artist on his smartphone between January 2015 and April 2016. It forms a single image, made up of thousands of captured moments.