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    Chinese dissident

August 26, 2012

Ai Weiwei – A Model of Hope

Ai WeiweiAi Weiwei, a Chinese modern artist and celebrated political activist, has been garnering a lot of attention lately. Long renowned for his provocative sculpture, photography and film projects, Ai is equally well-known for his open criticism of the Chinese government’s position on human rights and democracy. Both his art and his activism are documented in a new film titled Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

This provoking film is described as “the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.” The trailer provides a glimpse of this great man – his art, his passion, his enduring stand for freedom. Receiving countless film festival accolades and awards, this important film is providing audiences a view into Ai’s revolutionary fortitude.

This is a man who has faced down seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beaten him, bulldozed his art studio and held him in secret detention. Despite these efforts to censor him, Ai continues to triumph. To the dismay of the Chinese government, last year he topped ArtReview’s list of the 100 most powerful names in art, applauded for his continued ability to remind “his colleagues and the world at large of the fact that freedom of expression is a basic right of any human being.”

Ai Weiwei: Life is Never Guaranteed to be Safe

Ai Weiwei’s impact on humanity is virtually impossible to estimate. But the recent bravery of his fellow Chinese citizens provides one distinct example of the fortitude he has inspired. Late last year the Chinese government declared that he owed $2.4 million dollars in unpaid taxes, and had two weeks to pay it back. Supporters immediately came to his aid, with an estimated 30,000 people donating money. Though donations raised didn’t come close to covering his bond and he continues to appeal his fine, the generosity demonstrated by the people of China is inspirational. Ai told the Christian Science Monitor:

“China is really hopeful. Lots of people have made their own decisions” about the justice of his treatment and “have their own moral judgment that is so strong and so generous.”

This is a compelling story of hope and a demonstration of the impact that peaceful efforts to fight injustice can have. We haven’t heard the last of Ai Weiwei. His influence will, no doubt, continue to be felt in China and throughout the world.

ai weiwei - backpack serpent art

Ai Weiwei’s “Snake Bag,” an imposing super-sized gallery-length python of a piece made from 380 children’s backpacks, a memorial to the thousands of children who died in the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China