Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ai wei wei : studio

Ai Wei Wei's studio before demolision.

from {designboom.com}
authorities have stayed true to their decision to demolish ai weiwei's shanghai studio,
located in the northern district of jiading. destruction of the building has begun.

considered one of the most outspoken contemporary chinese artists / activists of our time,
ai weiwei's studio was deemed illegal by the government who said it did not follow the
proper building permits, so plans for the building's demolition were slated.

funnily enough, it was also the government and jiading mayor sun jiwei who originally
approached the artist two years ago, inviting him to open a studio space in the chinese city's
agricultural district as part of their plan to develop into a cultural centre of the metropolis,
and they had promised to help him acquire the necessary documents to erect the building.

back in november 2010, the artist offered his supporters 10, 000 river crabs as a means of celebrating
the government's order to demolish the structure. crabs as the dish of choice could be
considered a bit of a political statement as the chinese name for the river crustaceans sounds like 'harmonize',
a common figure of speech used by chinese authorities in reference to government censorship.
more than 400 followers attended the successful event.

supporters and followers of ai weiwei have been uploading their documentation of the demolition real time.
you can view images of the progress

here is a video teaser of the artist at his studio during construction from the upcoming
feature-length documentary entitled '
ai weiwei: never sorry', directed by alison klayman.

When I see this, it is a reminder that I should be really grateful that I can express my thoughts and ideas without fear of things like this happening to me. I admire for Ai Wei Wei for continuing his artistic vision even with such heavy consequences following his steps.

The reason this is intriguing to me is that I am a third Chinese. I have traveled to China twice, both times for a month. The first time I studied Chinese at the Xian University and traveled throughout the country. The second time I was in Guang Zhou to study Chinese painting and calligraphy for a month. I spent most of my childhood surrounded by three sets of Chinese elders, attending Chinese New Year's banquets, weddings and Chinese community events. I understand the complexities of the culture (not everything but more than most).

There are some great aspects of the Chinese culture and some heartbreaking ones too. Seeing things like this makes it all a little too real for me.

Here is my previous blog posting about Ai Wei Wei's 100 million sunflower seeds.

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