Dissident artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) remains relentless in his pursuit of free expression through art, social media, and political protest. For Ai Weiwei there is no clear division between art and politics. For him, art is a vehicle for social change, and a vehicle for the possible. After recently watching the documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, I was particularly excited to see his major exhibit, According toWhat?, currently at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) until October 27th, 2013.
For those who don’t know, Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists. Through his art he advocates for freedom of expression and places value in individual lives within the totalitarian state. After an earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in 2008 killed more than 5,000 children he has become ever more outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government. His activism and controversial artwork has led to the seizure of his passport and he is currently not allowed to travel outside of China.
Everything is art. Everything is politics.
In addition to working in a wide range of media, Ai Weiwei utilizes social media to make art and connect with the world. If I wasn’t already so busy, I’d sign up for Chinese language lessons so I could read his twitter feed. For now, I’ll have the artwork from his latest exhibit in Toronto to reflect upon.