Weiwei-isms

Princeton University Press
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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

  • "Say what you need to say plainly, and then take responsibility for it."
  • "A small act is worth a million thoughts."
  • "Liberty is about our rights to question everything."

On Art and Activism

  • "Everything is art. Everything is politics."
  • "The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay."
  • "Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it. I don't feel that much anger. I equally have a lot of joy."

On Government, Power, and Making Moral Choice

  • "Once you've tasted freedom, it stays in your heart and no one can take it. Then, you can be more powerful than a whole country."
  • "I feel powerless all the time, but I regain my energy by making a very small difference that won't cost me much."
  • "Tips on surviving the regime: Respect yourself and speak for others. Do one small thing every day to prove the existence of justice."

On the Digital World

  • "Only with the Internet can a peasant I have never met hear my voice and I can learn what's on his mind. A fairy tale has come true."
  • "The Internet is uncontrollable. And if the Internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win. It's as simple as that."
  • "The Internet is the best thing that could have happened to China."

On History, the Historical Moment, and the Future

  • "If a nation cannot face its past, it has no future."
  • "We need to get out of the old language."
  • "The world is a sphere, there is no East or West."

Personal Reflection

  • "I've never planned any part of my career-- except being an artist. And I was pushed into that corner because I thought being an artist was the only way to have a little freedom."
  • "Anyone fighting for freedom does not want to totally lose their freedom."
  • "Expressing oneself is like a drug. I'm so addicted to it."
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About the author

Ai Weiwei is one of China's most influential and inspiring figures. Artist, architect, curator, and activist, he has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's stance on human rights and democracy. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Guangzhou Triennial, Tate Modern, the Smithsonian, and other venues throughout the world. Larry Warsh has been active in the art world for more than thirty years. He has collaborated with Ai Weiwei on several projects, including the public art installation Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010). Warsh is a former member of the Contemporary Arts Council of the Asia Society and the Contemporary Arts Committee of the China Institute. He has also served on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Art, China; the Alliance for the Arts; and the Getty Museum Photographs Council. He is currently on the board of Muse Film and Television and is a member of the Basquiat Authentication Committee.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 1, 2012
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Pages
152
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ISBN
9781400845859
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Individual Artists / Artists' Books
Art / Individual Artists / Monographs
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / Censorship
Political Science / Commentary & Opinion
Political Science / Human Rights
Political Science / Political Freedom
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Kurt Andersen
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Over the course of five centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we've never fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails.

Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand Donald Trump and the culture of twenty-first-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must read this book.

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Weiwei Ai
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.

Barack Obama
In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a different brand of politics—a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces—from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media—that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

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Weiwei Ai
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.

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