1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: The story of two lives, one nation, and a century of art under tyranny

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1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: The story of two lives, one nation, and a century of art under tyranny

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: The story of two lives, one nation, and a century of art under tyranny

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So Sorry [ edit ] Poster of exhibition so sorry in Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany Cube light from 2008, during exhibition so sorry in Munich Charlie Foran: Straight (2008-2012). Ai Weiwei's embodiment of, commitment to and critique of the colossal in Chinese culture is made gloriously manifest in this astonishing piece. Think of the work first in terms of process. What an idea, to recover the actual steel rebar rods that were meant to keep those Sichuan schoolhouses standing during that terrible earthquake.

Ai was ranked 13th in ArtReview 's guide to the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art: Power 100, 2010. [205] In 2010, he was also awarded a Wallpaper Design Award for the Tsai Residence, which won Best New Private House. [206] It means you are commenting on the self destructive impulses in your society. You're commenting on the fragility of culture in your society. You're commenting on the ways in which power destroys things, particularly when power is exercised in an autocratic or authoritarian manner. Perhaps you're even commenting a little on the way you must position yourself in that conversation, destroyer and creator both. Look around these rooms at these mostly huge artistic gestures and confrontations. By being so big as an artist, Ai Weiwei is both embodying the colossal as China's enduring reality and declaring that, as one Chinese citizen, at least, he won't abide to any binding terms of that reality, in particular with regards to the individual experience. As of 14 April 2009, the list had accumulated 5,385 names. Ai published the collected names as well as numerous articles documenting the investigation on his blog which was shut down by Chinese authorities in May 2009. [36] He also posted his list of names of schoolchildren who died on the wall of his office at FAKE Design in Beijing. [37] This is the ever-changing landscape of Ai’s life. And if it comes with success and material comforts, it has also entailed persecution, beatings and displacement. He almost makes it sound like it’s his fate: “Everything seems very logical: my father, me, maybe this will also be part of my son’s life.” It seems he has been chosen, he says. “And I feel very grateful. It gives meaning to my life.”There's no artist here, so that's a very unusual thing. I wish that Ai Weiwei could see this exhibition." – Kitty Scott, AGO curator of modern and contemporary art As a sequel to Ai Weiwei's film Lao Ma Ti Hua, the film so sorry (named after the artist's 2009 exhibition in Munich, Germany) shows the beginnings of the tension between Ai Weiwei and the Chinese Government. In Lao Ma Ti Hua, Ai Weiwei travels to Chengdu, Sichuan to attend the trial of the civil rights advocate Tan Zuoren, as a witness. So Sorry shows the investigation led by Ai Weiwei studio to identify the students who died during the Sichuan earthquake as a result of corruption and poor building constructions leading to the confrontation between Ai Weiwei and the Chengdu police. After being beaten by the police, Ai Weiwei traveled to Munich, Germany to prepare his exhibition at the museum Haus der Kunst. The result of his beating led to intense headaches caused by a brain hemorrhage and was treated by emergency surgery. These events mark the beginning of Ai Weiwei's struggle and surveillance at the hands of the state police. Ai befriended beat poet Allen Ginsberg while living in New York, following a chance meeting at a poetry reading where Ginsberg read out several poems about China. Ginsberg had traveled to China and met with Ai's father, the noted poet Ai Qing, and consequently Ginsberg and Ai became friends. [12] That we get to know his work better, even in his absence, confirms that Ai has become an international symbol of dissent, and moreover, as skilled a propagandist as the government against which he’s fighting." – Chris Hampton, The Grid

Ai’s rebellion has its roots in his father’s turbulent life. He writes that he was never emotionally close to Ai Qing, who was a famous poet. Yet it is evident that his father’s persecution, first under the Nationalists in the 30s and then as a “rightist” during the Cultural Revolution, had a profound effect on Ai’s character. Charlie Foran, President of PEN Canada, offering insights on Ai Weiwei and several of his pieces of art in the context of contemporary and 20th-century China In 2019, he announced he would be leaving Berlin, saying that Germany is not an open culture. [22] In September 2019, he moved to live in Cambridge, England. [23] In 2008, Ai curated the architecture project Ordos 100 in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia. He invited 100 architects from 29 countries to participate in this project.In June 2023, his artwork "Middle Finger in Pink" was used as the cover artwork for the Peter Gabriel song " Road to Joy", from his forthcoming album i/o. It is a pink circle of swirling middle fingers in all directions. Architecture [ edit ] The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca, and its companion piece The Plain Version of The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca, is a wallpaper work consisting of intricate tiled patterns showing various pieces of surveillance equipment in whimsical arrangements. The two pieces were installed at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of a full-floor exhibition of his work that also included a video and the 2014 installation Trace. [155] man in a cube [ edit ] And while those river crabs may be busy-busy, crawling and snapping, what is their ultimate fate within that constricted space? To be eaten, just like everybody else, including their victims. Just as Chinese citizens, whether the coercers or the coerced, the victimizers or the victims, generally end up the same: in the proverbial pot. Sheng Xue, an exiled Chinese author, speaking about the importance of the work Ai did to ensure the children who died in the Sichuan earthquake are not forgotten

Now, Ai Weiwei is a political artist, but he's not, I don't think, an innately dissident one. Rather, his dissent isn't grounded in any wholescale rejection of his culture's precepts or challenges to that self-conception. What makes him so unique and such trouble to officials is that his work, his thinking, even his life clearly and happily embrace a fundamental principle of Chinese society: the colossal. Ai Weiwei: According to What? is a compelling look at the man and his life’s work, and the AGO’s location next to Chinatown and fiercely independent Kensington Market makes the exhibit particularly well suited to its venue." – Carly Maga, Torontoist

Ai Weiwei is a child of the Cultural Revolution. Now, every Chinese citizen who experienced the Cultural Revolution, no matter their age or circumstance, was profoundly shaped by it. The decade haunts a quarter billion lives, easily. His father, the poet Ai Ching, suffered terribly and predictably during the Cultural Revolution but at least survived. Ai Weiwei, a boy and then a teenager during the madness, came of age in a China where esteemed poets cleaned toilets and senior politicians were publicly humiliated and temples were destroyed, books burned, old culture devastated for no reason, for no obvious end. An artist raised in an era when young men and women called Red Guards, working on behalf, they believed, of supreme leader Mao Zedong did their best to obliterate that glorious history, to reduce it to rubble for later use — why not? — in a beautiful sculpture. Individual porcelain ornaments, each painted with characters for "free speech", which when set together form a map of China. [154] Trace [ edit ] Isn’t there an element of self-selection, though? Not that he’s to blame, but Ai has consistently put himself forward, raised his voice, created problems for himself, you could even say. “Everything that’s happened to me,” he says with bemusement, “if it was difficult, people say I deserve it. If it’s something glamorous, then I don’t deserve it. But I hope the principles I defend benefit everyone. Then it would feel worth it.”

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