who is ai wei wei?

I have seen this name on the news. I know he is Chinese and has recently been released from “detention”.  But who is this activist?  In my search for something to bring you in this blog every day, I am crawling all over the web for interesting art.  Time and time again in the last week I come across Ai Wei Wei as big political news (read more about it), and I think it’s time to feature this innovative artist. If you scroll down to my June 22 post on “Nesting”, you will see the nest-like Beijing Olympic stadium, which Ai helped to design.

  The studio space you see surrounding “Fountain of Light” was demolished by the Chinese government, arriving one morning without warning to completely flatten the building.

This exhibit consisted of hand-fired, hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds, created by artisans from Jingdezhen, the ‘porcelain capital’ of his native China.

These windows and doors came from all over China, places where entire townships and villages had been destroyed.  Ai explains, ‘the materials I use comes from objects destroyed in the name of development, or would be used by antique dealers to make copies of antique future. (Colonnello, 2007)’  Unfortunately, this entire structure collapsed under heavy weather conditions, not long after its installation.

Ai Wei Wei was due to board a flight to Hong Kong in April, but was stopped by officials.  After that, his whereabouts were unknown, sparking international condemnation, and internet posts baldly stating: WHERE IS WEI WEI? He was later charged with economic crimes. After 81 days in “detention”, he was released. The state news agency, Xinhua, said police had released him “because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes” and a chronic illness.


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