Friday, August 17, 2012

Artistic Expression My Wei

Never Sorry

I have  just returned from viewing a documentary film about the Chinese dissident conceptual artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957)

Ai Weiwei is China's most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.  Facing bail of millions of dollars, people from all over China are sending donations in order to pay-off that sum.

Mr. Ai uses many weapons in his radical campaigns: visual art, conceptual installations, but most of all, the Tweeter.

Indications of Weiwei's interest in food: 
Poorly designed and poorly built houses are called "Tofu houses." And they are dangerously vulnerable in earthquakes.
Film "Never Sorry!" directed by Alison Klayman (2012)  Mr. Ai is an irrepressible political activist,  and in the film, is  targeting the Chinese government for building "tofu" houses and children's schools, resulting in  a loss of 7,500 people during an earthquake. But as important as integrity in government is to Weiwei,  the film has a number of scenes devoted to FOOD.

For example , in the midst of a street demonstration, the artist slips into a restaurant and devours  some of those  scrumptious noodles with broth and meat.

We also get a curator's view of the installation of his renowned installation at London's Tate Museum entitled Sunflowers Seeds."


 [Sunflower seeds] are one of the most common natural products in China. It even grows in the wild. I grew up in the harsh conditions of the Gobi desert, where my family was sent as a punishment as political dissidents during the Cultural Revolution. But even there, we always had sunflowers around.There are two reasons why I used them in this piece. First, a political reason: Chairman Mao used to be depicted as the sun, and the mass of people as sunflowers always turning to the sun to show their revolutionary loyalty. Also, sunflower seeds are simply very common — they’re shared during conversations, holidays, before the movies, at weddings. Every household has some. So they have something to do with my memories. At the same time, the individual pieces for this piece were made by different hands of different people over a very long period of time.”

 NOTE: China has traditionally been a large consumer of sunflower seeds. People within all social and income levels eat them. The main reasons for the popularity of sunflower seeds in China is the tradition of eating them and the economical price in relation to other available nuts. American sunflower seeds do not compete directly with locally produced sunflower seeds. They have their own market niche.  [National sunflower Association]

 Turbine Hall: Ai Weiwei 

 Some Of The One Hundred Millions Sunflower Seeds Each "seed' is made of hand-painted porcelain, Chinese traditional art material.

"Each seed is an artistic entity onto itself - sui genre"

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