Call for Action: Worldwide Sit-In this Sunday for Ai Weiwei
information and educating newcomers to Ai Weiwei, his career and current situation. "Who's Afraid of Ai reported that a lawyer and designer linked to Ai Weiwei have also gone missing. An open letter by investigate the matter. We are deeply concerned about the situation Ai Weiwei and his colleagues are in now Call for Action: Worldwide Sit-In this Sunday for Ai Weiwei spot for discussion about the artist's fate While in NYC, the news of artist Ai Weiwei’s arrest and "Ai WeiWei" Missing posters of Ai Weiwei have been popping up on Twitter as twitpics all week. Ai Weiwei's "Perspective
Weekly Twitter Round Up
founder of Wikipedia: RT @jimmy_wales Dear China, the entire world is watching how you treat Ai Weiwei.. been buzzing all week with the arrest and detainment of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Calls for his call for Ai Weiwei’s release, see this link. The trailer for Lars Von Trier's Melancholia is both
Design Via Skype: Ai Weiwei and New Media Tactics
Ai Weiwei in the shadows on site at the building of Beijing's Olympic Stadium in 2008. Following a twitter link this morning, I read with interest a Village Voice article that presents a debate between three art critics about art and politics in the age of Occupy. While the article itself seemed a bit behind the ball in terms of obvious sentiments that raise the importance of a topic very much in public discourse (perhaps one by-product of living and working in the elite world of New York art institutions) I was struck by the concise summary that critic Martha Schwendener made about artist Ai Weiwei’s role within contemporary social and political movements that question repressive power structures. In her estimation, Ai’s approach centers on the use of traditional social media practices reconceptualised through new media platforms: “The principal thing to consider with Ai Weiwei is his blog. In the Western world, we think artist and activist. Over in China, they think: What's the difference? If you're an artist, you're an activist. It has been that way for hundreds of years. Ai Weiwei has pushed his activism to the limit. When his blog got shut down, he went to Twitter and critiqued the government in 140-character messages, which is how long most of Mao's pronouncements were.” Jacques Herzog, Ai Weiwei, and Pierre de Meuron. Image courtesy: Even now, despite being barred from leaving China, Ai Weiwei has continued to push his activism to Design Via Skype: Ai Weiwei and New Media Tactics "Ai WeiWei"
Update Ai Weiwei: Forty Day Imprisonment in China and Counting
with the words “thank you Ai Weiwei” and “freedom” painted on her body, kept the news in the Ai Weiwei in Tiananmen Square in 2009 on the 20th anniversary of the massacre. (Image source Update Ai Weiwei: Forty Day Imprisonment in China and Counting : Randomculture) This past week the news concerning Ai Weiwei’s continued imprisonment by Chinese upon the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988—positions Ai Weiwei’s current situation in a much "Ai WeiWei" question the Beijing authority’s human rights record, referring directly to the Ai Weiwei detention
Weekly Round Up
You can follow this link to check out the latest additions to my blog's online magazine of collected links, videos, and images or see a few of the standout items linked directly below: Ai WeiWei Releases Single and Music Video “DUMBASS” Out the Internet: A group marathon reading of the ENTIRE INTERNET in Mexico City Illustrations of early media computing systems - now in high resolution “I felt so old and out of it with this whiz guy right there who’d helped invent it.” —Andy Warhol meets Steve Jobs Here are the 9 indies you MUST see this July
Weekly Twitter|YouTube Round Up
Ai Weiwei goes Gangnam style to the delight of audiences worldwide (see tweet and YouTube video below) Another week done and we find ourselves over the midterm hump and ready to dive into the meaty part of the fall semester. I have been doing a lot of marking and evaluating this weekend along with enjoying the best of the Halloween season (i.e. scary movies and treats). Take a quick break and enjoy some of my picks from around the Twitterverse. As a new feature, I've also decided to add some of my favourites from around YouTube land into the weekly mix-- now that there are so many more art-related videos popping up on my subscription feeds, I want to pass along some worthy picks to compliment the Twitter links. Enjoy and have a safe and Happy Halloween this week! Garage (Art) Sale: Martha Rosler to fill the @MuseumModernArt with 12,000 donated objects to sell for charity New film technology may be the death of Vancouver theatres Art exhibit in Seattle replaced all work by male artists with work solely by female artists for new exhibition 100 ideas that changed art I would just like to point out that @metmuseum has put hundreds of PDFs of out of print art books online. #gratis UbuWeb has just added over 150 films Ai Weiwei goes 'Gangnam Style' in video tribute to Psy
Ai Weiwei Speaks Out From Beijing: CBC Feature Interview
Ai Weiwei risks his personal security and future to speak out to the CBC about human rights abuses in China and the conditions surrounding his current house arrest in Beijing. image courtesy of It has been nearly one year since Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was arrested in China after a series of escalating episodes that resulted in the contemporary artist's 81 day detainment and silencing by the Beijing authority. Currently under house arrest and under close scrutiny by the local police who track his every move, it has become nearly impossible for Ai to operate in the same capacity that saw his rise in prominence and importance within the global art community. Significantly, he has been forbidden from utilizing social media and speaking with foreign journalists-- activities he has continued to undertake as a way of keeping in communication with supporters beyond China. He has also been savvy in keeping up with his art practice (see my recent blog post here), finding ways to collaborate and maintain his active presence in the world of contemporary art. In his first major North American interview since his detainment, Ai Weiwei takes on a considerable risk to himself and his family to discuss his situation and keep the conversation going about human rights abuses in China today. In the CBC interview with the art and culture program Q, he discusses the difficulties he has faced both mentally and physically during his long detainment, the question of whether he sees any aspect of his current condition as a form of performance art, and his decision to continue residing in China even after his current situation is resolved. He also warns Western politicians about the short-sighted approach and "bad message" that is sent to the Chinese authority by ignoring human rights abuses while continuing to build economic ties with China. He singles out Canada for this violation and persuasively speaks about the mixed message that is received in Chinese society with respect to the need for social change when so much is ignored by the West when it comes to the internal conditions in the country. Sadly, Ai does not believe that power will shift any time soon within China, but he does believe that external pressure and the consciousness raising through the conditions of his arrest will help others come to recognize the true face of the current Beijing authority. In terms of art's power to affect social change, Ai maintains that it is through collective efforts and "ordinary people's passion" that such transformation is possible. Ai Weiwei Speaks Out From Beijing: CBC Feature Interview "Ai WeiWei"
Weekly Twitter Round Up
Discovered via Twitter this week: Modern CuCoo Clock (see tweet below) Marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, pause to sleep, marking, marking, marking, pause to eat, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, pause to check Twitter, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, marking, (you get the point...) The 'starving artist' stereotype is officially over according to new study Amazing faceted modern clock Cooper Union, famously tuition-free, may not be so much longer Why do academics hog conversations? 10 Contemporary Performance Artists You Should Know PDFs of Michel De Certeau's great The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol 1 and Vol 2 Protests Aim to "Shut Down" Goldman Sachs-Owned Art School, Money Pours in for Ai Weiwei, and More Top Stories
Weekly Twitter Round-Up
Paris vs. New York graphics via a tweet from Perfect spring weekend spent enjoying the sunshine, strolling the seawall, catching up on some great books, and dreaming of post-semester summer plans. What could top that? Later tonight, Mad Men premiere! It is amazing what a difference one weekend and an appearance by the sun can make. Enjoy and check out some of favourite tweets from the past week: Authorities censor Art Dubai in advance of a visit by members of the emirate’s ruling family Good old fashioned Saturday morning cartoon The Stanford Education Experiment Could Change Higher Learning Forever Love it, then critique it: 3 subversive Mad Men remixes to ring in Sunday's premiere One tweet, 10,000 followers: Dissident artist Ai Weiwei slips, briefly, through China censor New Yorkers may enjoy this, a new app highlighting all of the different artwork on display in the subway system An Avantgardistic Instinct for Relevances: Intellectuals and their Public, Jürgen Habermas
Ai Weiwei Picturing Resistance in the Past and the Present
Ai Weiwei Picturing Resistance in the Past and the Present Ai Weiwei pictured in front of the demolition of his Shanghai studio last week. Image from CBC News/ AFP Getty Images This past week artist and activist Ai Weiwei watched as the Chinese government held fast to its promise of demolishing his Shanghai studio—the same artist who was recently honoured with a large scale exhibition in one of the most prestigious art museum’s in the world, London’s Tate Modern. When I first posted about Ai’s compelling and much discussed installation at the Tate this past fall, there were already many signs that the artist’s high profile presence on the world stage would have little impact on the persistent surveillance and suspicion to which he was subjected in his home country. In early November only weeks after Ai’s opening in London, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese writer and professor Liu Xiabo created considerable controversy within Chinese ranks. In fact, many observers now believe that this has lead to the increasing crack down by the Chinese government on dissidents, activists, professors and other individuals deemed “agitators” to the nation. Hundreds of images of the demolition (like this one taken from flickr) have been appearing on the Internet over the past week in both news and blogs. As reported by numerous news outlets in early November, Ai was notified with little explanation or notice that his newly built Shanghai studio—a space that ironically enough the Shanghai authority originally asked the artist to build as an extension of his practice in his hometown of Beijing—was slated for demolition. In response Ai quickly began to organize what he called a “going away party” via Twitter and email, arranging for the demolition to be part of his first and last work of art in the Shanghai space. When word spread of the plans, China’s most internationally acclaimed visual artist was placed under house arrest in Beijing even as hundreds of supporters made their way to the site (many of them being questioned and detained by the local police). Still, the final demolition was postponed, and it was only last week without warning that the destruction began. Ai, tipped off by neighbours, made his way to the site and began shooting photos and videos of the demolition—images that have now been circulating for the past week on the Internet. Ai Weiwei as a young artist in New York-- many of the thousands of photographs he took captured scenes of urban tension and protest. What many people may not know about Ai WeiWei is that his interest in photography and capturing images of conflict have long and deeply connected roots to his early days as an émigré artist in New York City. As part of the first generation of Chinese students allowed outside of their country since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Ai captured his experience through more than 10,000 photographs from the early 1980’s to early 90’s. Looking at the images of the Shanghai demolition, I was immediately reminded of the images I had recently viewed in a video piece shot by filmmaker Alison Klayman chronicling the artist’s use of the camera and in particular the many images of protest and racial discrimination/tension that he captured (see video below). Klayman has been working on the first feature-length documentary on the artist called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and she reveals how most of these images remained untouched and even undeveloped until 2008 when a small number of them were first shown in a Beijing photography exhibition. In an interview with the New Yorker this past week, Ai reflected on the Chinese government actions towards him and the apparent short sightedness the demolition of his studio carried within the frameworks of contemporary art production and circulation of meaning: “I thought, huh, the destruction of it has already made it art. Art exists in different forms. What is art? Should we go back to the age of only sculpture? At least a hundred thousand people knew this news over the Internet. They watched it in front of their eyes.” It will be fascinating to see what impact, if any, the circulation and broader news of these developments will have in the brewing debates and outcomes concerning China’s treatment of its public intellectuals, cultural figures, and especially its contemporary artists. If nothing else, it is certain that the continuing documentation and uncontrollable distribution of these kinds of images will keep the conversation going. Alison Klayman's video piece created for Tate Shots and teaser clip from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, set for release in 2011 "Ai WeiWei"
Ai Weiwei and the Art of Activism: 100 Million Seeds, 100 Million Voices
endorse. Check out these two great video clips, the first a Tate short featuring interviews with Ai that China seems to be currently engaged with: “Ai Weiweireadymade and Warhol's multiples and turned Weiwei and a documentary showing how the seeds were produced and their symbolic significance to Chinese Ai Weiwei filled Tate Modern's Turbine Hall with 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds which he encourages visitors to experience with all of their senses. Photo: CBC News Arts This past week the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo, a Chinese intellectual, university professor, writer, and human rights activist who participated in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and helped establish a Human Rights Report of China that he published online and for which he was eventually imprisoned in 2008. During the award ceremony, the Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Liu’s “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights” and said of China that it had an obligation as a growing economic and political power to take more responsibility to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. China has since denounced the awarding of the Prize to Liu Xiaobo, insisting that the political prisoner is a “criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law.” In short, the award is an embarrassment to China, but has successfully placed a massive spotlight on the state of the freedom and the restraints on the exchange of information in China. Observing these events unfold, I thought it was difficult not to reflect upon how Chinese artists, filmmakers, writers and cultural producers who circulate their art works beyond China to an increasingly global marketplace and audience will react. In the past several years, the Chinese contemporary art market and the number of individual Chinese collectors showing an interest in global art has exploded, opening up dialogue and debate in the country about the kinds of artistic traditions and global influences (many avant-garde, postmodern, conceptual, and/or anti-institutional in nature) that are inspiring a new generation of visual artists and those who follow and are interested in them. Among them, conceptual artist Ai Weiwei has emerged as a leading figure of Chinese contemporary art and his high profile exhibition at the Tate Modern in London opening during the same week as the awarding of the Noble Prize is either calculated brilliance or the most amazing and ironic coincidence. Ai Weiwei (artist, curator, architectural designer, activist) posing with a handful of seeds Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1958, the son of a poet exiled during the Cultural Revolution who spent time with his father in labour camps as a child. As a student, Ai enrolled in film school and helped form an avant-garde artist association that was later disbanded when he left for New York in 1983. It was in the United States that he studied at the Parsons School of Design and would apply his interest in Dadaism and Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades to his practice. Returning to China in the 1990’s when his father fell ill, Ai’s art also began to show signs of reaction and commentary on the brewing social and political tensions within China, creating art works that explore the history and discourse of modernism/modernity and how they have been deployed in his homeland. This direction has proved controversial to say the least. For example, during the preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Ai famously withdrew support for his design that inspired the final “Bird’s Nest” stadium, claiming that the use of the building to promote China’s forward-looking modernism was nothing short of a “pretend smile.” Ai Weiwei was the artistic consultant on the spectacular building project that became the symbol of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing-- a project from which he later withdrew his support. As a result of the artist's outspoken commentary and heightened profile in the global art world, Ai's studio has since been put under surveillance and his blogs deleted by Chinese authorities (his website and blogs have subsequently existed on US servers that cannot be viewed in China). His most recent activism concerns the 2008 Sichuan earthquake where the death of school children in badly built schools was partly the result of funds for school building costs being taken by local Chinese officials. In the earthquake’s aftermath, the Chinese government attempted to downplay and cover up the severity of the event both in China and around the world. In response, Ai published the list of students on his blog and organized a one day boycott of the government mandated Green Dam spyware that was to be sold with every personal computer sold in China to prevent full access to the Internet (the initiative has since been postponed due in no small part to the artist’s efforts and the near impossibility of implementing a fully controlled Internet ban). At that time, Ai connected his art practice even more directly with his social concerns stating that: “As an artist, I will never be satisfied if I cannot reach…the nation’s problems. My activism is a part of me. If my art Ai Weiwei and the Art of Activism: 100 Million Seeds, 100 Million Voices "Ai WeiWei"
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
Weiwei announced via Instagram of his withdrawal from Danish exhibitions in protest of new and Pants With Our Kanye Motivational Posters Ai Weiwei Withdraws Art from Two Danish Museums in Protest past month are now being directly reflected in this week's art news. My media feed lit up after Ai
Weekly Twitter Round Up
Ai Weiwei Hilarious Spoof...Beastie Boys Fight For Your Right-Revisited Lecturer's arrest in the
Weekly Twitter Round Up
Limitless is that your brain becomes the internet, with all the attendant problems Fear eating the soul of the Chinese Government: Release Ai Weiwei now
Weekly Twitter Round Up
Artistic appropriation is considered in a great article tweeted by the NYTimes below image source: NYTimes Happy New Year! It was wonderful getting away for the holidays to a warm and tropical locale—a highly recommended remedy to weeks of final exams, marking, and final project deadlines. Faced with the new term and a new slate of students, I am truly refreshed and looking forward to what the semester will bring in terms of good conversation and new musings. The Twitter world also went into something of a hibernated state over the holidays and has reawakened with a great deal of activity. Glancing at my feed over the past week, I was happy to see artist/activist Ai Weiwei returning to his Twitter account, but it seems that the sad developments in Egypt have also taken over much renewed discussion (see my final tweet pick for an engaging article). The requisite best-of 2011 lists are also fun to read, and so a few of my picks will have you thinking back and assessing what you gained and learned. It’s great to be back home and ready to tackle a new year! GOOD Books: When 2012 was the future Today's #TED: Paddy Ashdown on how global power is shifting and how nations are connected in ways never seen before Scorsese's HUGO is the best movie I've seen in at least a year. Don't miss it. It's wonderful. Outdated law + rip/mix culture
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
Don’t Have as Much Control in Videogames as You Think Who Said This: Ai Weiwei Or Andy Warhol? A
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
really want to believe there's a 'laptop' in this ancient statue In defense of Ai Weiwei's drowned
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
-- you are very very lucky, and I am eternally jealous! List of Links (for quicker linking): Ai Weiwei and
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
Culture Icons by Adam Lister How to Look at Art Like Jerry Saltz The Year the Studios Get It Right Ai Weiwei sets up studio on Greek island to highlight plight of refugees Artist Orlan Tries Again to Sue
Weekly Flipboard Links and Media Round Up
Weiwei's searing documentary Human Flow), but also to the many conflicting aspects of the art world speaks not only to the important megaphone artists have to bring attention to critical issues (such as Ai
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