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Ai Weiwei proposing two new major works for San Francisco

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Both works, if selected, will be featured on Treasure Island

Waterfront Plaza.
Courtesy SF Arts Commission.

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) announced Monday that it will offer Chinese artist Ai Weiwei the opportunity to submit a design for two permanent new art installations on Treasure Island, competing with other contemporary artists for a chance to feature prominently in the new island community presently under development.

The commission is considering designs for three sites, one with a $1 million budget and two others with $2 million budgets each. A panel chose eight artists out of 495 applicants to create and submit designs.

According to SFAC:

Each artist or her/his representative will be asked to attend an on-site orientation and will be paid an honorarium to develop a preliminary proposal for the site. It is anticipated that proposals will be submitted in the spring and will be placed on public view on Treasure Island as well as elsewhere [...] for comment and feedback before being voted upon by the Treasure Island Development Authority [TIDA].

Ai will submit designs for the $2 million Waterfront Plaza site (likely the location of a future ferry terminal) and the $1 million “Building 1 Plaza” site. Ai, who resides in Beijing, is most noted in San Francisco for his 2014 exhibition on Alcatraz featuring a dragon emblazoned with Twitter logos and Lego portraits of political prisoners and for his frequent criticism of the Chinese government.

Of course, there are seven other prominent artists whose work the TIDA may favor, including New Jersey sculptor Chakaia Booker, the only artist other than Ai to be selected for more than one locale.

Building 1 Plaza.

Sculptor Ned Kahn (who has created several exhibits for the Exploratorium), LA-based visual artist Pae White, British sculptors Andy Goldsworthy (who created the Presidio Spire) and Antony Gormley, Cuban-born sculptor Jorge Pardo, and New York-based, Tokyo-born architectural artist Sugimoto Hiroshi will all submit designs for one of the three island sites as well.

Because of the scale of development on Treasure Island, the city will end up commissioning up to $50 million worth of new public art in the coming decades.