Friday, 23 November 2012

Ai Weiwei alive and kicking

What seems another fun, harmless, and maybe not even very artistic Gangnam style copy by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, together with a group of friends, is a way to keep him going. It looks like he enjoyed the crazy dancing. And of course, Ai Weiwei wouldn't be Ai Weiwei if the video would not transport a message. The Chinese title, "grass mud horse", sounds like a swearword and showing off in handcuffs is to criticise Chinese censorship. No surprise, that his video has been taken down from Chinese websites. Some commentators joke, it was because of the lousy dancing.

Ai Weiwei cleverly use all kind of social network to communicate with the world. Here he is just riding on the wave of success of Korean singer Psy's original song and video to transport his message: I am alive and kicking!

But much more serious is the video below. Please take a moment and watch this interview with The New Yorker from October 9, 2012 to understand a little bit more Ai Weiwei's situation and his thinking:

I watched the video a couple of times to understand him better. I feel touched and sad. While living in China, I went once to his restaurant, where he had dinner with friends, but I did not meet him in person. He is not one of the usual successful Chinese artist, like the Gao Brothers that you can meet at 798 art district or Zhang Xiaogang (grey sad faces) and Yue Minjun (colourful laughing faces) who's paintings are selling at auction houses for 5 digit dollar amounts.

Ai Weiwei does not sell commercial art, he uses his art to make people think, to tell a story, a philosophy. I think he is often exhibiting in the West and is more popular in the West because he was educated in the West. He does not seem to have many Chinese friends. Most Chinese don't bother about censorship at all. Other artists don't dare as much as he did in the past.

Of course you can enjoy living in China. You do not necessarily feel the power and censorship of the government. It is not that people are suffering. But the moment you want to criticise something, you will see it and feel it. There is no right of free speech in China and people cannot surf the Internet, zap TV channels or read newspapers and books as in other countries.

Sorry, this blog is not supposed to be political. There is so much to say about it and I am not an expert. I just wanted to share with my readers this interview with a strong personality, who loves his country and only wants the best for it and its citizen, happiness and creativity.

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