Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Something Warm in his Heart'

Ai Weiwei, China's foremost artist-activist, used his blog and Twitter account to convey his feelings about the political course of his homeland. Now they have been silenced with his arrest on April 3rd, but his book published by MIT entitled Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 provide a record of his perspectives.

"Chinese state media suggest that he is guilty of "economic crimes" and a bevy of other reputation-killers such as plagiarism and being "erratic." But his imprisonment is clearly a means of shutting him up. A forceful advocate of democracy and free speech, Mr Ai used his blog to confront the fictions of government propaganda. With belligerent conviction, he railed against the inhumanity of a regime with no respect for the truth."

Ai's father, Ai Qing, was a poet who was deemed an enemy of the state in 1957 during the Cultural Revolution and was later released. He hoped that his son would not become an artist for fear that he would suffer. "But I became an artist because, even under pressure, my father still had somewhere nobody could touch," he explained. "Even when the whole world was dark, there was something warm in his heart."

Weiwei wrote, "Twitter is most suitable for me. In the Chinese language, 140 characters is a novella." His blog, which was censored in May 2009, had over 2,700 posts. His book contains over a hundred translated pieces.

Moreover, he is convinced that "No matter what happens, nothing can prevent the historical process by which society demands freedom and democracy."

He has been called "a figure of Warholian celebrity" and 'a broadly transnational artist who is not easily ignored.' An overview of his accomplishments may be read here.