Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry' Is a Must-See

Image via Birds Eye View

Ai Weiwei (pronounced 'eye way-way') is a Chinese artist who stepped onto the world stage during the DATE Olympics in Beijing. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a documentary about the art and protest work Weiwei has done since the Olympics, when he protested the Chinese Government's treatment of civilians in Beijing before the games began. In a country where speaking out against the government is against the law, Weiwei chooses to be a daring voice for change, governmental transparency, free speech, and personal liberties.

One of the most ambitious projects/protests began for Weiwei after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He led and coordinated an effort to discover the names and ages of all the school children that were casualties of the earthquake and shoddy "tofu" construction of the government schools. The government would not release that information, so Weiwei and volunteers interviewed parents in each community that had been affected. The result was a list of all the school children who died, published online on the 1 year anniversary of the quake.

Continuing to keep these casualties in the public eye, Weiwei designed an installation piece for a show in Germany that covered one side of a building's facade with 9,000 backpacks, spelling out a "she lived on this earth happily 7 years," a phrase a mother had written about her dead child, in Chinese characters. Additionally, Weiwei collected recordings of Chinese citizens reading the names of the school children, and released that audio file for the second anniversary of the earthquake.

These are just some of the incredible things that Ai Weiwei has accomplished, inspiring the help of other Chinese citizens in many different ways in his own provocative, subversive way. An avid user of social media, especially Twitter, until his abduction and eventual release on bail by the Chinese government. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry tells the story of Weiwei's accomplishments up until now so that neither his voice nor his inspiration and achievements will be forgotten.

 I highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in protests, social change, the provocative power of art, or Chinese culture. I was riveted throughout by the bold and courageous Weiwei. I can't wait to see what he does in the future. Find out more about this award-winning documentary on the official website.

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