Rooted and Unbendable Ai Weiwei by Misha Lyuve

Aug 19, 2012

Every society has constraints that offer opportunity for vision, freedom and courage. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” by Alison Klayman is a documentary about a man who appreciates the possibilities and challenges of this opportunity in China. Ai Weiwei is an artist who turned his vision and success into an effective and audacious tool for challenging the Chinese government to promote freedom and individual rights.

In one of my interactions with the government, I was stopped by police in the U.S. for speeding and I was so scared that my back went numb. Ai Weiwei has been arrested, followed and harassed by the Chinese government for years. I am fascinated by people who by virtue of their values and beliefs overcome their fears and give up conveniences of their lives to forward causes they are committed to. Being a master communicator, Ai Weiwei is doing it with a particular grace that created a following for him in China and abroad – and it is that following that makes it so much harder for Chinese government to shut him up.

Here are a few things to know about Ai Weiwei (check out Who inspires: Ai Weiwei and Ai Weiwei: The Evolution of a Dissident)

- Ai Weiwei was one of the designers of the Bird’s Nest, the Beijing Olympics stadium. He later publicly denounced the project and his participation in it because the government turned the Olympics games into a massive propaganda for the ruling party.

- During the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province poorly built schools collapsed killing a large number of students. As Chinese government refused to acknowledge issues with the school construction or release the number of children who died during the earthquake, Ai Weiwei and his volunteers identified 5,335 names and pictures of those kids who died. His supporters recorded their names and Ai Weiwei dedicated an exhibition in Munich “So sorry” to this event while Chinese government shut down his blog and threatened him and his family.

- In 2010 Ai Weiwei had 100,000,000 handmade porcelain sunflower seeds created for his exhibition in Tate Modern contrasting the mass-production reality of China, centuries of Chinese porcelain art tradition and a sunflower as an accepted symbol of Chinese propaganda art.

In “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” will tell you a story of one man’s life and leave you with the questions about yours.

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