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"Forever Bicycles" by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opens Taipei exhibition

Centrepiece installation by Beijing 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium designer is 10m high and contains 1,200 bikes...

Despite being otherwise engaged with the Chinese authorities, dissident Ai Weiwei has nevertheless opened his show 'Ai Weiwei absent' at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan's capital.

The iconoclastic artist famous in the UK for his ten million handpainted ceramic sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall last year has upset his government with such artworks as forming the backpacks of 8,000 schoolchildren killed in the recent earthquake into a giant artwork spelling out in Chinese characters "She lived happily for seven years in this world," the distraught phrase of a grieving mother. He is now effectively under house arrest in China and banned from travelling abroad.

According to the 'Ai Weiwei absent' programme notes the installation is made from over 1,000 bicycles. "Its layered labyrinthine space creates what appears to be a moving abstract shape that symbolizes the way in which the social environment in China is changing."

Ai Weiwei has previous form with using bicycles in his work and although this 'Forever Bicycles' piece is the most he has used before, according to Carlton Reid of the UK trade magazine BikeBiz they always come from the Shanghai Forever Co, a state-run Chinese bike company in existence since 1940.

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