For three decades, Ai Weiwei, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, has used his art to wage protests loud enough for all the world to hear. In April, the Museum of Contemporary Photography will premiere Ai’s first solo show in Chicago, #AiWeiwei, which the 59-year-old artist curated. It presents thousands of photographs—many of them potent self-portraits—taken over the course of his career. Here, the artist reflects on some of those images.

GO#AiWeiwei opens April 13 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan Ave. Free.