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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ai Weiwei Speaks


Perhaps you've heard of Ai Weiwei. Openly critical of the Chinese government, he was arrested in 2011 for "tax evasion," causing international appeals for his release. There is a new documentary about him, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Contemporary Chinese artist, architect, curator, publisher, poet, urbanist, and all-around shit disturber, Ai Weiwei is a pertinent figure in our current political and cultural landscape. 


As the title suggests, Ai Weiwei Speaks with Hans Ulrich Obrist is a small book of interviews conducted over the years between Ai Weiwei and Hans Ulrich Obrist (mega-curator and professional artist interviewer). 


Here's a (random) sample of what is to be found in this treasure chest:
"In 2003 I agreed to teach in Tsinghua Art University in China. You know I hate school, so I told the University that and said I can teach but we have to do the teaching in a bus, so we rented a bus. We divided the Beijing map into sixteen parts, and each day the bus would go through all the streets, so one day the bus went through one part, the next day through the next part, but after sixteen - about 150 hours - we had really been through all the streets of Beijing. We had a video camera mounted in front of the bus to take the whole long video, lasting about six days and nights, and it tells the story of what Beijing would look like in this line. Of course, before and after we made the video, the city was always changing; we couldn't even find the same road again, it was being destroyed or rebuilt."

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