Ai Weiwei Artist with a Mission
Freedom of Expression
Ai Weiwei is a gifted man with many talents; born in Beijing, China Aug 28th 1957. He did not come from a privileged background he spent his childhood in a Chinese work camp. This is not a place an innocent child should see the inside of. Ai Weiwei survived this ordeal and went on in life to become known as the Andy Warhol of China. He is a world respected contemporary artist, film director, architect and is also well known for his social, cultural and political criticism.
Not Allowed to Leave the Country
One ordeal he went through was when he was arrested at the Beijing airport and held by the Chinese government; they finally released him after a harrowing 81 days of capture. His supporters including Alison Klaymen director of the documentary based on Ai Weiwei "Never Sorry." His followers made it known to the Chinese government that they would let the world know of what was being done to Ai Weiwei. This support I'm sure certainly helped in him getting released. The Chinese government released him but kept his passport and will not allow him to leave the country. This of course was just another tactic of the Chinese government to try and suppress Ai Weiwei. Even though he was not allowed to leave the country his artwork was taken on a world tour; his supporters made sure that the rest of the world would get his message through his art. The Chinese government had taken down his Internet videos but his supporters kept them going beyond China so the rest of the world could see and hear Ai Weiwei's message.
Ordes 100 Project
In 2008 he directed a film called "Ordes 100" which was filmed in China. It is a documentary film on a project that brought Ai Weiwei and 100 other architects from around the world to come together to design buildings for a brand new city. Many of the architects had never had the opportunity to take part in designing buildings for a brand new city. Most had done their designs in old cities which had new and old designs mixed together. This was an exciting challenge for many of the architects who had participated in the Ordes 100 project. Well like most projects it had it's glitches such as the following: China's representatives for this project found they did not have enough funds in the currency they had agreed to pay the architects as well as trying to decide whether all buildings would be made of the same material and if they should all be the same color or not. One of the architects said "this is a zoo filled with animals of many colors but you want us to color all the animals the same color." I myself would hate to see everything the same color; how boring and blah that sounds. A world full of color is a much brighter place; its food for the eyes as well as the soul. This project has yet to come to light.
Getting His Message Out to the World
Ai Weiwei is such a great inspiration when seeing what he has accomplished by finding ways to get his thoughts and expressions out beyond the Chinese borders. Using his special talents as tools to get his message out into the world. Chinese people have been taught to ignore their personal thoughts, feelings and not to question their rulers but just to do as their told without questioning. They are forced to suppress their personal feelings and beliefs the Chinese government controls through fear and manipulation. Many would love to be brave enough to stand up for their rights but fear is a powerful weapon to overcome for most. Ai Weiwei is a person who people can look up to; seeing his strengths in the actions he takes against the Chinese government.
Putting His Life on the Line for Freedom of Expression
Ai Weiwei doesn't see himself as a political figure so much as a man who wants to be treated with dignity and respect. He wants to be allowed to express himself freely without being censored and suppressed at every turn by the Chinese government. He is probably the only Chinese artist who is willing to put his life on the line in order to fight for his right for "freedom of expression".
Missing Journalist- Wen Tao
Hopefully he won't come up missing like the young 38yr old Beijing journalist Wen Tao. Wen Tao was a journalist for a Beijing newspaper; on his free time he would write about Ai Weiwei. Apparently when the newspaper he worked for found out he was writing about Ai Weiwei they fired him telling him never to return. Shortly after this he went missing on April 3/2011; he has never been found.
Oppression, Censorship and Fear
There is a fine line that if you cross it you are seen as an activist in the eyes of the Chinese government. It is a very fine line that Ai Weiwei is balancing on. Ai Weiwei would rather continue the balancing act in standing up to free his rights of expression. Hopefully Ai Weiwei will not suffer a similar fate as that of Wen Tao. His world supporters offer him some protection from the wrath of the Chinese government. He must watch his step on this thin thin line. One side representing freedom of expression and the other side trying to keep the Chinese people in a life of oppression, censorship and fear. Hopefully he will land on the right side and be allowed to have his freedom!
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