Son of poet Ai Quing (1910-1996).
Date of Birth 28 August 1957, Beijing, China
Chinese filmmaker and dissident Ai Weiwei has been part of the jury for the International Film Festival Rotterdam giving the event a whiff of political protest. Ai joined a jury that includes Russian screenwriter and filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa (“The Revue,” “My Joy“), Dutch director Kees Hin (“Shadowland“) and artistic director of the Seville European Film Festival José Luis Cienfuegos. The jury consists of another artist who has run afoul of a politically repressive regime –Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamedarya, who has been banned from acting in film, theater » But this man has so much more, he is a real figther for human rights, beginning with the chinese government itself, his father has been in jail and so he learned as a young boy what is different according to the rules in China or elswhere, he wrote blogs, till the chinese goverment closed it down, now he is twittering, which cannot be prbehitted by the chinese gv.
April 2011) Book: Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. Translated by Lee Ambrozy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN-10: 0-262-01521-8
NEVER SORRY 2012,
A documentary that chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government.
Ai Weiwei (born 18 May 1957) is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highl and openly critical of the Chinese Government‘s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called “tofu-skin schools” in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of “economic crimes” (tax evasion). In October 2011 ArtReview magazine named Ai number one in their annual Power 100 list. The decision was criticised by the Chinese authorities. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin responded, “China has many arteing telephatic, which is neede t.o save earth, but first we need to save us, away with the violence, difference of social classes, nobody want and needs hunger, being shut up, or used as slaves, raped or killed for actually being cruel with eachother.
the first time outside of China, his photographs of his time in New York City from 1983 to 1993 were featured in a 2011 exhibition presented by Asia Society. The earliest photographs were from 1983, while he was living in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. In 1985, he moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he lived in two different apartments until he returned to China in 1993 to be with his ailing father. The exhibition included images of the poets Allen Ginsberg, Gu Cheng, and Bei Dao.The exhibition, showcasing 227 photos, opened on 29 June and lasted until 14 August 2011.The show moved from NY to Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. In April 2012, with the participation of Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, exhibition called New York. 1983-1993 opened at Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. Another exhibition in 2011–12, Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn at the Victoria and Albert Museum, featured a selection of ceramic works including Coca Cola Vase and a pile of sunflower seeds. In his ceramic works Ai engages with issues such as the loss of historic material culture due to rapid modernization as well as broader themes including perceptions of value, mass production, globalization and the concepts of ‘real’ and ‘fake’
In summer 2012, Ai teamed again with Herzog & de Meuron on a “would-be archaeological site [as] a game of make-believe and fleeting memory” as the year’s temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London’s Kensington Garden.
On 4 October 2012, Ai premiered a new installation at the Art Museums of Bergen in Norway. His installation was a part of the exhibition “Real Life Stories”, also featuring nine other leading contemporary artists from China.
On 7 October 2012, Ai’s exhibit entitled “According to What?” opened at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture in Washington, DC. He was unable to attend the opening in person because his passport was being held by the Chinese authorities, as part of his ongoing legal troubles. The exhibit showcased some of his art from previous exhibitions, including his work with Han Dynasty vases, and photographs of his time in New York and Beijing. The exhibit “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads”, that was previously on display in New York was also featured at the Hirshhorn and put on display in April 2012.
Awards and nominations.
2008 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, Lifetime Achievement
2009 GQ Men of the Year 2009, Moral Courage (Germany); The Art Review Power 100, rank 43; International Architecture Awards for Tsai Residence, Anthenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, Chicago, USA
2010 In March 2010, Ai received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Faculty of Politics and Social Science, University of Ghent, Belgium
In September 2010 he received Das Glas der Vernunft (The Prism of Reason), Kassel Citizen Award, Kassel, Germany.
Ai was ranked 13th in ArtReview‘s guide to the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art: Power 100, 2010. Ai is now on top of ArtReview‘s guide to the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art: Power 100, 2011. In 2010 he was also awarded Wallpaper Design Award Best New Private House for Tsai Residence.
2011 In December 2011, he was one of four runners-up in Time’s Person of the Year award. Other awards included: Wall Street Journal Innovators Award (Art); Foreign Policy Top Global Thinkers of 2011, rank 18; The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Award for Courage; The Art Review Power 100, rank 1; Membership at the Academy of Arts, Berlin, Germany; The 2011 TIME 100; The Wallpaper* 150; Honorary Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; and Skowhegan Medal for Multidisciplinary Art, New York, NY, USA.
2012 Along with Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif and Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, Ai received the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent of the Human Rights Foundation on 2 May 2012. In 2012, Ai was also awarded an Honorary Degree from Pratt Institute, honorary fellowship from Royal Institute of British Architects, elected as Foreign Member of Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, and recipient of The International Center of Photography Cornell Capa Award.
Beijing National Stadium
Ai was commissioned as the artistic consultant for design, collaborating with the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, also known as the “Bird’s Nest.”Although ignored by the Chinese media, he had voiced his anti-Olympics views. He later distanced himself from the project, saying, “I’ve already forgotten about it. I turn down all the demands to have photographs with it,” saying it is part of a “pretend smile” of bad taste. In August 2007 he also accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said “It’s disgusting. I don’t like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment. In February 2008, Spielberg withdrew from his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics. When asked why he participated in the designing of the Bird’s Nest in the first place, Ai replied “I did it because I love design.
Sichuan earthquake student casualties investigation
On 15 December 2008, Ai supported an investigation, started by another Chinese artist, into student casualties in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Called the “citizen’s investigation”, it aimed to compile a list of students killed in the earthquake by 12 May 2009, the earthquake’s first anniversary.
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 He also posted his list of names of schoolchildren who died on the wall of his office at FAKE Design in Beijing.
Ai suffered headaches and claimed he had difficulty concentrating on his work since returning from Chengdu in August 2009, where he was beaten by the police for trying to testify for Tan Zuoren, a fellow investigator of the shoddy construction and student casualties in the earthquake.On 14 September 2009, Ai was diagnosed to be suffering internal bleeding in a hospital in Munich, Germany, and the doctor arranged for emergency brain surgery. The cerebral hemorrhage is believed to be linked to the police attack.
According to the Financial Times, in an attempt to force Ai to leave the country, two accounts used by him had been hacked in a sophisticated attack on Google in China dubbed Operation Aurora, their contents read and copied; his bank accounts were investigated by state security agents who claimed he was under investigation for “unspecified suspected crimes.
Shanghai studio controversy
In November 2010, Ai was placed under house arrest by the Chinese police. He said this was to prevent the planned party marking the demolition of his newly built Shanghai studio.The building was designed and built by Ai upon encouragement and persuasion from a “high official [from Shanghai]” as part of a new cultural area designated by Shanghai Municipal authorities; Ai would have used it as a studio and to teach architecture courses. But now Ai has been accused of erecting the structure without the necessary planning permission and a demolition notice has been ordered, even though, Ai said, officials had been extremely enthusiastic, and the entire application and planning process was “under government supervision”. According to Ai, a number of artists were invited to build new studios in this area of Shanghai because officials wanted to create a cultural area.
Like other activists and intellectuals, Ai was prevented from leaving China in late 2010. Ai suggested that the authorities wanted to prevent him from attending the ceremony in December 2010 to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo. Ai said that he had not been invited to the ceremony, and was attempting to travel to South Korea for a meeting when he was told that he could not leave for reasons of national security.
In the evening of 11 January 2011, Ai’s studio was demolished in a surprise move by the local government.
In 2011, Ai sat on the jury of an international initiative to find a universal Logo for Human Rights. The winning design, combining the silhouette of a hand with that of a bird, was chosen from more than 15,300 suggestions from over 190 countries. The initiative’s goal was to create an internationally recognized logo to support the global human rights movement.
South China Morning Post reports that Ai received at least two visits from the police, the last being on 31 March – three days before his detention – apparently with offers of membership to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. A staff member recalled that Ai had mentioned receiving the offer earlier, “[but Ai] didn’t say if it was a membership of the CPPCC at the municipal or national level, how he responded or whether he accepted it or not.”
On 24 February, amid an online campaign for Middle East-style protests in major Chinese cities by overseas dissidents, Ai posted on his Twitter account: “I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!
On 3 April, Ai was arrested at Beijing Airport just before catching a flight to Hong Kong and his studio facilities were searched. A police contingent of approximately 50 officers came to his studio, threw a cordon around it and searched the premises. They took away laptops and the hard drive from the main computer; along with Ai, police also detained eight staff members and Ai’s wife, Lu Qing. Police also visited the mother of Ai’s two year-old son. While state media originally reported on 6 April that Ai was arrested at the airport because “his departure procedures were incomplete the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 7 April that Ai was arrested under investigation for alleged economic crimes. Then, on 8 April, police returned to Ai’s workshop to examine his financial affairs. On 9 April, Ai’s accountant, as well as studio partner Liu Zhenggang and driver Zhang Jingsong, disappeared while Ai’s assistant Wen Tao has remained missing since Ai’s arrest on 3 April. Ai’s wife said that she was summoned by the Beijing Chaoyang district tax bureau, where she was interrogated about his studio’s tax on 12 April.
Response to Ai’s arrest
Analysts and other activists said Ai had been widely thought to be untouchable, but Nicholas Bequelin from Human Rights Watch suggested that his arrest, calculated to send the message that no one would be immune, must have had the approval of someone in the top leadership. International governments, human rights groups and art institutions, among others, called for Ai’s release, while Chinese officials did not notify Ai’s family of his whereabouts.
State media started describing Ai as a ‘deviant and a plagiarist’ in early 2011. The China Daily subsidiary, the Global Times editorial on 6 April 2011 attacked Ai, saying “Ai Weiwei likes to do something ‘others dare not do.’ He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day. Two days later, the journal scorned Western media for questioning Ai’s charge as a “catch-all crime”, and denounced the use of his political activism as a “legal shield” against everyday crimes. It said “Ai’s detention is one of the many judicial cases handled in China every day. It is pure fantasy to conclude that Ai’s case will be handled specially and unfairly.”Frank Ching expressed in the South China Morning Post that how the Global Times could radically shift its position from one-day to the next was reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland
Tate Modern in London, home to Ai’s ‘Sunflower Seeds’ exhibition, put a large sign on their exterior that reads “Release Ai Weiwei”
Michael Sheridan of The Times suggested that Ai had offered himself to the authorities on a platter with some of his provocative art, particularly photographs of himself nude with only a toy alpaca hiding his modesty – with a caption『草泥马挡中央』 (“grass mud horse covering the middle”). The term possesses a double meaning in Chinese: one possible interpretation was given by Sheridan as: “Fuck your mother, the party central committee”.
Ming Pao in Hong Kong reacted strongly to the state media’s character attack on Ai, saying that authorities had employed “a chain of actions outside the law, doing further damage to an already weak system of laws, and to the overall image of the country.” Pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, Wen Wei Po, announced that Ai was under arrest for tax evasion, bigamy and spreading indecent images on the internet, and vilified him with multiple instances of strong rhetoric. Supporters said “the article should be seen as a mainland media commentary attacking Ai, rather than as an accurate account of the investigation.”
The United States and European Union protested Ai’s detention. The international arts community also mobilised petitions calling for the release of Ai: “1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei” was organized by Creative Time of New York that calls for artists to bring chairs to Chinese embassies and consulates around the world on 17 April 2011, at 1 pm local time “to sit peacefully in support of the artist’s immediate release.Artists in Hong Kong and Taiwan demonstrated and called for Ai to be released.
One of the major protests by U.S. museums took place on 19 and 20 May when the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego organized a 24-hour silent protest in which volunteer participants, including community members, media, and museum staff, occupied two traditionally styled Chinese chairs for one-hour periods. The 24-hour sit-in referenced Ai’s sculpture series, Marble Chair, two of which were on view and were subsequently acquired for the Museum’s permanent collection.
On 16 May 2011, the Chinese authorities allowed his wife to visit him briefly. Liu Xiaoyuan, his attorney and personal friend, reported that Wei was in good physical condition and receiving treatment for his chronic diabetes and hypertension; he was not in a prison or hospital but under some form of house arrest.
He is the subject of the 2012 documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by American filmmaker Alison Klayman, which received a special jury prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and opened the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, in Toronto on 26 April 2012.
On 22 June 2011, the Chinese authorities released Ai from jail after almost three months’ detention on charges of tax evasion. Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, had allegedly evaded taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. State media also reports that Ai was granted bail takes on account of Ai’s “good attitude in confessing his crimes”, willingness to pay back taxes, and his chronic illnesses. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he is prohibited from leaving Beijing without permission for one year.
In November, Chinese authorities were again investigating Ai and his associates, this time under the charge of spreading pornography. Lu was subsequently questioned by police, and released after several hours though the exact charges remain unclear.
In June 2012, Ai’s bail was lifted. Although he is allowed to leave Beijing, the police informed him that he is still prohibited from traveling to other countries because he is “suspected of other crimes,” including pornography, bigamy and illicit exchange of foreign currency.
In October, authorities revoked the license of Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd for failing to re-register, an annual requirement by the administration. The company were not able to complete this procedure as its materials and stamps were confiscated by the government
So Ai Wei Wei, thank u for being here and show ppl whats is happening, in ur country and also by writing blogs, books, u show what could be and is not, what should be and has been denied, show us how not to be, but the ones who have freedom of word, they should cherish it and more, they should use it more, to be of some importance for the rest, which cannot speak out, for the ones who are voiceless.
Lots of above was taken from other sources and i end with a quote, from an interview in 2006:
There are two things we are interested in with your urban work. The first concerns your thoughts about the contemporary city: what’s happening right now with Chinese urbanization? The second is the approach you take in your own urban interventions. I thought we could begin by talking about some of your recent projects. What made you start making work like that, what made you start documenting the city?
Ai Weiwei : It’s not exactly documenting. It has that function, but it has no documentary purpose. It’s not being used as evidence or testimony for anything, but rather to materialize our physical life, its condition in the moment. If you are in place A or on line A or line B, then that present there or that movement is simply as it is. We’re living in a constantly changing world and everybody sees it and knows it, but as an artist who is also involved in issues of design and urban planning, I always try to find a way to most efficiently capture what I call fragments, or very small pieces which carry the flavor or carry the essential meaning of the city. So it’s a very small effort that I have made, even if it looks quite massive in terms of the length of the videos, its just one section of a fact – the concrete world.