This collection of quotes demonstrates the elegant simplicity of Ai Weiwei's thoughts on key aspects of his art, politics, and life. A master at communicating powerful ideas in astonishingly few words, Ai Weiwei is known for his innovative use of social media to disseminate his views. The short quotations presented here have been carefully selected from articles, tweets, and interviews given by this acclaimed Chinese artist and activist. The book is organized into six categories: freedom of expression; art and activism; government, power, and moral choices; the digital world; history, the historical moment, and the future; and personal reflections.
Together, these quotes span some of the most revealing moments of Ai Weiwei's eventful career—from his risky investigation into student deaths in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to his arbitrary arrest in 2011—providing a window into the mind of one of the world's most electrifying and courageous contemporary artists.
Select Quotes from the Book:
On Freedom of Expression
The Open Access version of this book, available at https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315714899, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.
Distinguishing between two kinds of state action--expressive and coercive--Brettschneider contends that public criticism of viewpoints advocating discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation should be pursued through the state's expressive capacities as speaker, educator, and spender. When the state uses its expressive capacities to promote the values of free and equal citizenship, it engages in democratic persuasion. By using democratic persuasion, the state can both respect rights and counter hateful or discriminatory viewpoints. Brettschneider extends this analysis from freedom of expression to the freedoms of religion and association, and he shows that value democracy can uphold the protection of these freedoms while promoting equality for all citizens.
In 2006, even though he could barely type, China's most famous artist started blogging. For more than three years, Ai Weiwei turned out a steady stream of scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autobiographical writings. He wrote about the Sichuan earthquake (and posted a list of the schoolchildren who died because of the government's “tofu-dregs engineering”), reminisced about Andy Warhol and the East Village art scene, described the irony of being investigated for “fraud” by the Ministry of Public Security, made a modest proposal for tax collection. Then, on June 1, 2009, Chinese authorities shut down the blog. This book offers a collection of Ai's notorious online writings translated into English—the most complete, public documentation of the original Chinese blog available in any language.
The New York Times called Ai “a figure of Warholian celebrity.” He is a leading figure on the international art scene, a regular in museums and biennials, but in China he is a manifold and controversial presence: artist, architect, curator, social critic, justice-seeker. He was a consultant on the design of the famous “Bird's Nest” stadium but called for an Olympic boycott; he received a Chinese Contemporary Art “lifetime achievement award” in 2008 but was beaten by the police in connection with his “citizen investigation” of earthquake casualties in 2009. Ai Weiwei's Blog documents Ai's passion, his genius, his hubris, his righteous anger, and his vision for China.
Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is widely known as an artist across media: sculpture, installation, photography, performance, and architecture. He is also one of the world's most important artist-activists and a powerful documentary filmmaker. His work and art call attention to attacks on democracy and free speech, abuses of human rights, and human displacement--often on an epic, international scale.
This collection of quotations demonstrates the range of Ai Weiwei's thinking on humanity and mass migration, issues that have occupied him for decades. Selected from articles, interviews, and conversations, Ai Weiwei's words speak to the profound urgency of the global refugee crisis, the resilience and vulnerability of the human condition, and the role of art in providing a voice for the voiceless.
Select quotations from the book:
"This problem has such a long history, a human history. We are all refugees somehow, somewhere, and at some moment."
"Allowing borders to determine your thinking is incompatible with the modern era."
"Art is about aesthetics, about morals, about our beliefs in humanity. Without that there is simply no art."
"I don't care what all people think. My work belongs to the people who have no voice."