Ai Weiwei, art as defiance

If there is an artist who represents what art can do for developing critical thinking to build a better society, that is definitely Ai Weiwei. Born in Beijing (China) in 1957, this contemporary artist and activist is one of the most prominent figures in social criticism, both to the Chinese reality and internationally through their movements, actions, opinions and creations. A personality that we in Inalcotrends want to highlight as one of the most inspiring souls that provide a different view and allow us to reach more with our gaze.

His story is filled with moments of tension and reinvention. With the continuing influence of his father, Ai Qing, persecuted by the Chinese government for its status as a poet, Weiwei migrated to the United States in 1981, living 12 years mostly in New York, excelling in art education and presenting his conceptual art in various exhibitions. In 1993 he returned to China, where he established a experimental group of artists ‘Beijing East Village’ and participated in the publication of three books of Chinese art. He founded an architecture studio, FALSA Design, and even participated in the creation of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing.

As an artist, his work includes sculptural installations, carpentry, video and photography. His retrospective has already visited Washington and New York. His critical activity has always found in his artistic works the tip of the iceberg of his profound philosophy. In 2005 he began writing in the most widely read portal in China, Sina Weibo, where his blog became very popular until it was closed in 2009 after criticizing the attitude of the Chinese Government against cases like the Sichuan earthquake and the Olympics . His Twitter account, @aiww, is an active and scathing reflection to the world news. He was also under arrest for three months, being released because of lack of evidence on allegations on burocratic problems and tax evasion and after an international media campaign demanding his release. Indeed, his most recent works approach his research on the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake and the responses to his arrest by the Chinese government.

His artistic activity has also taken place within the music industry. He has made a critical ‘cover’ to the Chinese government with a  ‘Gangnam Style’ aesthetic, or an album called ‘The Divine Comedy’with different varied songs. A unique character that constantly helps rethink things and address the circumstances with a much more critical thinking.

Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei's Unilever Installation 'Sunflower Seeds' is shown at The Tate Modern on October 11, 2010 in London, England. The sculptural installation comprises 100 million handmade porcelain replica sunflower seeds. Visitors to the Turbine Hall will be able to walk on the work - which opens on October 12, 2010 and runs until May 2, 2011.

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