Monday, June 17, 2013

Never Sorry

I was in a documentary mood today, so while Graham was taking his second nap, I sat down with my new favorite lunch, and put on Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

I have seen some of Ai Weiwei's work before, but never really knew what his art was about. I knew that he was very vocal politically, but after watching this documentary, my eyes were opened so much wider. First I was struck by the sense that Ai is an incredibly brave man with a calm open temperament, living his life, making his work, going about his day, not looking over his shoulder, but with the understanding that at any point for any reason at all, the government can lock him up, silence him. The tension throughout the whole film was palpable. 

I laughed and then later was moved to the edge of tears at least three separate times. Especially during the artist's tireless investigation into the number of lives lost during the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. Thousands of school children died, an exact number the Chinese government attempted to cover-up because of corner-cutting construction of government-built schools. I had never had a look at China like this before. Remembering, the large-scale installation Ai Weiwei created to commemorate those lives lost, was such a simple yet profound gesture: 9,000 children's backpacks arranged to spell out the phrase "She lived happily for seven years in this world" in Chinese characters, a sentiment expressed by one of the mothers whose daughter died in the earthquake. Many of the children who were killed were only-children, following China's one-child policy.

So much of his work is that way. With all that he does Ai Weiwei is saying what should be said, speaking for those who have no voice. 

I really loved the film. And I think you would too. 

- Cathleen 

[Images courtesy of The GuardianShakeoutblog, and Premier Art Scene]

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