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Ai Weiwei Drifting

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Changing the tone of sadness - Ai Weiwei's work at Idomeni

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Video News | 09.06.2017

„Because life is short and transitory“ – Interview with Ai...

Culture

The Early Years

Ai Weiwei's career began with provocative projects. In 1979 he and some fellow artists founded the Stars Group in Beijing. This upsurge in avant-garde art in China – with protests, readings and performances – was short-lived. Faced with mounting pressure from the authorities, the group disbanded in 1983. By then, Ai Weiwei had been in New York for two years and was studying film and art.

Culture

Art as Protest

'Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn' is a series of portraits from 1995 of Ai Weiwei dropping and smashing a precious two-thousand-year-old urn in protest of the destruction of China's cultural heritage. The act of dropping the urn is recorded in a triptych of black-and-white photographs. An iconic and provocative work.

Culture

International Breakthrough

The Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany, in 2007 marked Ai Weiwei's sudden ascent to world fame. For his 'Fairytale' project, he sent 1,001 Chinese people to the contemporary art exhibition. His 'Template' installation was made of doors and windows salvaged from houses demolished to make way for new construction in China. It was destroyed in a windstorm. Ai Weiwei liked the result.

Culture

Late Regret

Together with the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron Ai Weiwei designed the new National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 'Bird's Nest'. He later said he regretted having been involved in what proved to be a propaganda project for the ruling Communist Party. He said he had wanted the stadium to represent progress, not autocracy.

Culture

Silent Accusation

In 2009 Ai Weiwei covered the facade of the Haus der Kunst in Munich with 9,000 backpacks that make up the sentence "For seven years she lived happily on this earth". The installation is a tribute to the 5000 children, who were killed when their schools collapsed in an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008. Ai Weiwei accused the authorities of shoddy construction and corruption.

Culture

Critical Condition

In 2009 in Munich Ai Weiwei had to have surgery for a brain hemorrhage thought to be the result of the beatings he had received at the hands of police in Sichuan. He had gone there to testify at the trial of the rights activist Tan Zuoren, who had been investigating the collapse of schools in the 2008 earthquake.

Culture

Ai Weiwei Divides Opinion

For his admirers, Ai Weiwei is one of the great political artists of our time. His critics say his work is often crude and simple. With his surveillance cameras modeled in marble or his detailed replica of his prison cell, his sharp criticism of the Chinese government, surveillance, consumerism and corruption, Ai Weiwei is not always subtle. He says it like it is.

Culture

Where is Ai Weiwei?

100 million sunflower seeds hand-crafted in porcelain covered the floor of the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London in 2010. They symbolized the relationship of the individual to the mass and to mass production 'Made in China'. On 3 April 2011, Ai was arrested as he was about to leave Beijing and was held for 81 days. People gathered at the exhibition to protest and call for his release.

Culture

Brick by Brick

In 2015 Ai Weiwei placed a bulk order for Lego bricks to make portraits of civil-rights activists for an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia, entitled 'Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei'. But Lego refused his order, because of concerns about maintaining political neutrality. In response to calls on social media for donations, Ai was flooded with offers of Legos from fans.

Culture

Voice of Refugees

Since the European Union agreed on a resettlement plan for stranded refugees in 2015, the Czech Republic has let in only twelve. At Ai Weiwei's first solo exhibition in Prague, 'Law of the Journey', his huge lifeboat installation evokes the plight of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean and the many thousands who have drowned. Some Czechs are offended by the show.

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