Take an artistic ride with Forever Bicycles

Posted on Sep 25, 2019 by The Forks Market

Photo courtesy of April Carandang

Wheel by wheel and seat by seat, this week a team is constructing a new art installation which will grace CN Field for the next three years: Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles.

The 30-foot sculptural piece is hard to miss; it’s made up of 1,254 bicycles which resemble the Shanghai Forever Co. bicycles that filled the streets of China during Ai’s childhood but were financially out of reach for the artist and his family, who had spent time in labour camps near the North Korean border and Xinjian province in the late 1950s.

Ai, a world-renowned Chinese artist, often uses themes of human rights and the plight of refugees as inspiration for his artwork and also his activism — he’s been openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights — so it’s only fitting Forever Bicycles is set against the backdrop of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the unmoving bicycles symbolizing a loss of freedom.  

The repetitiveness and size of the installation, as well, holds meaning; it represents mass production, the cornerstone of the Chinese manufacturing industry.

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Photos courtesy of @elbertbakker

The goal is to have the piece installed in its entirety by Saturday so Nuit Blanche visitors will have the chance to experience the full effect of sculpture, which you can stand under and move around, gaining a new perspective with each new view.  

And for those photographers out there who want to capture the magnificence of Forever Bicycles on film (or, erm, SD card?), get ready for a challenge! This piece can be especially tricky to shoot as the way the bicycles are layered and linked together often creates a wavy, fuzzy appearance when photographed. (Google image search it, you'll see!)

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Photo courtesy of April Carandang

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Photos courtesy of @elbertbakker

Photographer Sarah Frankie Linder shared some advice with Austin Monthly: regardless of if you’re using a DSLR or a phone camera, try adjusting the distance or angle at which you are shooting and increasing your depth of field to get the best snap.

This is the first time Ai’s work has been presented in Winnipeg and we’re hoping this poignant and timely piece will result in more artwork of similar stature and importance finding a home at The Forks in addition to the vast collection of public art pieces already on site.

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Photos courtesy of @elbertbakker

“Public art brings people together, creates a sense of community and opens up dialogue. It also exposes everyone who visits The Forks to work that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to see,” says Clare MacKay, Executive Director, The Forks Foundation. 

Come help us continue to create and nurture our artistic (and art-loving) community — we can’t wait to share Forever Bicycles with you!


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