Tuesday, April 19, 2011


In case you missed the comment on my post [from Katie L.] about one of my alltime favorite artists and one of my few true living heroes, Ai Wei Wei, please go to this Frontline link and watch the entire footage to the end (it's just under eighteen minutes long) and I'll be shocked if he doesn't become one of your heroes too.

There are many unsung heroes in the world, all those kids and others who pulled off the Jasmine Revolution recently, and those right now facing their oppressors in Syria or Libya and so on.

But somehow it is even more impressive when someone has achieved so much in his field that he has, or could have, everything our materialistic society has to offer and yet choose to risk his life and his capacity to continue his creativity just to tell the truth and record it.

That's something I dedicated my life to when I was a boy and have at times lived up to and taken risks for, even been threatened with death and less terminal forms of violence, but nothing anywhere near the risks this man has taken almost on a daily basis for years, and has now been "disappeared for" with no one knowing for sure what is happening to him.

I only hope that his incarceration (or—let's hope not—worse) coupled with his international reputation can spark the kind of insurrection that will finally bring down the repressive rule of one-party Communist China. To me Ai Wei Wei has the stature of a Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi but coupled with the irreverence and creative savvy of Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor.

Let us all work to free him before it's too late, if it isn't already.
[in case you can't tell
that's Tienanmen Square
& Ai Weiwei's finger]


Elisabeth said...

I heard about the sunflower seeds installation, Michael.

Ai Weiwei is an amazing artist and let's hope that he and his art help to free people from yet another repressive regime.

Thanks for the marvelous link.

Lally said...

E. Yes, the million porcelain sunflower seeds is a brilliant marriage of so many strands of historical and contemporary art. A pure stroke of genius! But what sometime strikes me even more about Weiwei is how powerful a presence he is in photographs and on film. Like Picasso only more so. Even if I didn't dig his art and his activism, I'd probably want to hang his photo with other icons in my personal pantheon, like Nelson Mandela's or Martin Luther King's, because the importance of his unique contribution to expanding our concept of what it means to be human is evident even just in his look. There's a power that must frighten the Chinese bullies terribly.

Miles said...

What an inspiration. The Frontline piece is very compelling. The way he responded to the bulldozing by claiming it as his most important artwork is brilliant!

Here is a link to a hub of info regarding his situation. On the right hand side there are links to online petitions for his release.

Cain and Todd Benson said...

My Thoughts. “Ai Weiwei-Freedom 2”. Art, image.


tpw said...

He's a brave soul. It's not hard to deeply respect that kind of heroism. Which brings me to one of my erstwhile heroes: Bob Dylan, who recently acceded to Chinese government demands to censor his performance over there, agreeing to steer clear of "Blowin' in the Wind" and other more political songs from his early career. It's one thing for him to sabotage his fans' expectations by appearing in Victoria's Secret ads or whatever, but another to bow to despots for the sake of --what? money? And to do this now, at age 70, when China is beating and imprisoning people like Weiwei & the U.S. has been sold to Wall Street and the corporations, is unforgivable.

Lally said...

TP, Yeah, that was pretty disappointing, though I read some commentators who said Dylan's presence alone and anything he would sing would have an impact on the Chinese audience as a blow for freedom because it's impossible for him not to be an example of artistic and individual freedom etc. and more along those lines. But as far as I know he never mentioned Ai Weiwei, so it's all jive as far as I'm concerned.