From Writing Art
Ai Weiwei's Blog
Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009
Manifestos and immodest proposals from China's most famous artist and activist, culled from his popular blog, shut down by Chinese authorities in 2009.
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.
Paperback$28.95 T ISBN: 9780262015219 336 pp. | 9 in x 7 in 58 b&w illus.
This work is invaluable as a critical perspective and chronicle while also being an extraordinary contributor to...the contemporary Chinese political landscape.
In terms of illuminating the dynamics of protest in our understanding of one of global culture's most percipient commentators, this text is highly recommended.
Ai Weiwei is a widely acclaimed artist, an innovative designer, an influential architect, a visionary urbanist, a competitive cook, and even a great hairdresser. He is also a compelling and disputatious writer who knows how to address and to rally a wide audience, voicing his own dissatisfaction, and that of his fellow countrymen, at being confronted on a daily basis with the alarming glibness of a rampant Chinese society and its disquieting political representation.
Director, Tate Modern
Blogging produces reality rather than simply representing it. Ai Weiwei is among our very best guides to this new terrain: one of the greatest living international artists and a fighter for more freedom. Ai Weiwei's daily blog entries, gathered here, will make the reader see the world in a different and startlingly original light.
Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery, London
The works and words of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who lived in New York during formative years of his artistic development, seem to arise not only from the venerable cultural traditions of his homeland but also from those commenced in colonial America with the 'Common Sense' political activism of Thomas Paine, further fused with the trickster antics of the Native American Coyote character and the lingering specter of Andy Warhol's media savvy. It remains to be seen what will become of this broadly transnational artist amidst the turbulent global culture of our time, but he is not easily ignored.
Henry J. Heinz II Director, Yale University Art Gallery