Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

Welcome Visitors!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ai Weiwei, on artist & society, plus a clarification of a confusing Kindle topic

I saw the Ai Weiwei film by Alison Klayman last night called Never Sorry. Ai Weiwei, a powerhouse conceptual artist from Beijing was silenced and under a sort of gag order since authorities in Shanghai built him a studio, and then singlehandedly dismantled it with bulldozers! Go figure. In 2011, he went through 81 days in secret isolation for no reason that made sense. And before this, police broke into his hotel room in the middle of the night and beat his head so badly that he developed swelling of the brain, which required surgery. Why? Perhaps it had something to do with him designing the Beijing Olympics "Bird's Nest" stadium, and then protesting the Olympics, after he realized that many houses would be torn down and many people displaced in the process. It also could have been the government's embarrassment at Weiwei documenting the devastating earthquake in 2008, which killed thousands of school children in Sichuan province, that the government tried to cover up.

Up until this time, Weiwei documented all of his art on Twitter, and he is a real proponent of the Net as a truly democratic form of communication. His art is irreverent, such as painting the Coca Cola logo over vases of antiquity, or covering the Tate Modern gallery in millions and millions of sunflower seeds that were actually fake, hand-painted seeds.

Hearing him talk about art and life is truly inspiring and he refreshed my own vision of the creative life and all it entails. For someone to persist against so many odds, and prevail is sobering yet uplifting. Here is an interview Weiwei gave for the Guardian.
You can also follow his news on his Facebook page and on twitter at #AWWNeverSorry.

His beautiful Zodiac heads were on exhibition here in New York and Los Angeles last year. Steven Little, the curator of the LA exhibition had this to say about them: "Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads are a multi-layered meditation on political power, the nature of time, and the often tormented relationship between China and the West, at the same time calling into question the arbitrary nature of such concepts as national treasure."

On a publishing note, author Donna Galanti posted this link to Moira Roger's helpful article about Kindle Lending Library vs Lending Kindle Books, a normally confusing topic that many would love clarification on!

What do you think the responsibility of an author or artist to his or her audience? To herself? To the world?

19 comments:

  1. He has a truly amazing story. Thanks for the links.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have to look more into him. What an interesting man.

    ReplyDelete
  3. His story sure makes one appreciate the freedons we have in America. He's talented and brave.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, as "Democratic" as China has gotten, it has a ways to go.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the Kindle Lending link. I had been reading up on it, and was still confused. That article helped clear things up a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an amazing story. It only takes the courage of one to open our eyes, I always say.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, Weiwei's tale is eye-opening! Go see the film if you can.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ohmigosh, yes, I remember seeing the Zodiac heads in Manhattan! The M5 bus I often take passed by where they were often (Grand Army Plaza, at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 59th street. In fact, if you do a Google Maps search on "5th Avenue and 59th street" and zoom in to street level, the pictures available show them! :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry; the M5 bus passes by there daily - I meant to say that I often take it and realize I was repeating myself. :D
      Some Dark Romantic

      Delete
  9. Thank you for passing along information on Weiwei. I didn't know about him before. Someone who must fight for so much and go through such barricades really makes one think before complaining about, say, how tough it is to break into the publishing world.

    I think an artist's responsibility to everyone is to remain true to themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I remember reading about him and being deeply touched by his gifts and unfettered spirit. He seems to know, or at least cannot help, forging ahead with his gifts of creativity and activism, which I find irresistible.

    I think an artist has no "responsibility," per say, unless she willingly takes on this mantle of responsibility, or feels it so strongly or naturally that it becomes an intrinsic part of what she does. Weiwei, for example, protesting the Olympics after creating the "Bird's Nest," could not, in being true to himself, support the games after learning of the related injustice. Responsibility? Perhaps, but self-imposed, versus demanded by others.

    That said, I do feel a sense of responsibility that revolves around the much-overused but perfect word, "authenticity." Whether or not I can achieve such a utopian state, I do strive for it in my creative ventures; it is not only what fulfills me, but also what I feel I owe anyone spending time reading, listening, or viewing my creative offerings. I want to leave more than I take.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, Britton, honesty and authenticity are very important to me as well. And Shannon, you're basically saying that too. Mina, every time I went by those Zodiac animals it made me smile. They were such a bright presence.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Such an amazing story. I haven't heard of him before.

    ReplyDelete
  13. When an artist moves from the private place of making art to becoming a public figure, I can't help but wonder if there's a shift in consciousness that has some impact on an artist's original purity/integrity/artistic vision. How can you not admire someone like Weiwei who sees his role as an artist beyond the actual art he produces?

    ReplyDelete
  14. He follows in his father's footsteps. His dad, Ai Qing was a poet, who was jailed for his leftist political leanings around 1932.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ai Weiwei is one of my favorite artists. There's a great feature on him on "Art in the 21st Century." At the time it was filmed, he was in detention so his assistants gave the most amazing insight into his process. The fact that he hasn't bailed from China entirely speaks volumes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Loved reading about this artist, Catherine. Thank you. As long as the spotlight is on people like this China's leaders will know the world is watching.

    As to the responsibility of the artist I think it's to stir the imagination, to provoke, to awaken, and above all to be him or herself no matter what the popular or political climate is at the time.

    As always, I've enjoyed my visit here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I read somewhere that as writers, we can't tell people what to think, we can only tell the truth as we see it. And oftentimes, there will be people/organizations who won't want the truth to be told at all. But again and again, we hear from brave voices who find a way to speak nevertheless. Those voices won't quit. Thank goodness! Thanks for letting me learn more about Ai Weiwei.

    ReplyDelete