A new exhibition of Ai Weiwei's work has gone on display in New York, even though the Chinese dissident artist will not be able to attend.

The Brooklyn Museum previewed 'Ai Weiwei: According to What?', which they have described as the first large-scale museum exhibition of Ai's work in New York. The exhibition showcase the artist's work as a sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and activist.

An outspoken critic of the Chinese government's record on free speech and human rights, Weiwei has not been allowed to travel to New York for the exhibition as the Chinese government retains his passport.

Ai addressed the problem to the exhibition audience in a pre-recorded video message:

"I think to have a show in Brooklyn but at the same time, not allowed to attend, it also reflects my condition and my condition which is not only mine, it reflects so many writers, poets, musicians in the society like China. They're restrained, they're being crashed or they have been put in detention or jail. So I think this is part of our factor of today's world," he said.

Mami Kataoka is the chief curator at the Mori Art Museum, said it is impossible to divide Ai's art from his politics.

"It's been always asked how does he divide art and politics. But it's all the same -- art and life, and public and himself. All of these sort of dichotomy doesn't really exist within himself. He always sort of holistically try to embrace. So some of the works are strongly related to his human rights activities, but some of the works are not related at all," she said.