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ai weiwei

Ai Weiwei on How Art Comes Alive

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The artist and human rights activist discusses the power of writing, the poetry of his father, and the artworld’s self-serving ideologies

Contemporary artist and human-rights activist Ai Weiwei came to international prominence for his open criticism of the Chinese government’s autocratic rule and its human rights policies, a position that resulted in the state’s efforts to silence his condemnations via sustained intimidation, a 2009 attack by the police that left him with a brain haemorrhage and a three-month imprisonment in 2011.

Following the unannounced demolition of his Beijing studio in 2018 by local authorities, Ai relocated to Berlin. His memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows (2021) tells the story of China’s political and social history over the last century through the intertwined experiences of Ai and his father, the renowned modernist poet Ai Qing, who was exiled for two decades, including a period of hard labour in Xinjiang.

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