(Wang Fei) & Ai Weiwei

His name was Wang Fei.

IMG_1044

He was 7 years old in 2008.  His was the name that leapt at me because I could read the Chinese spelling of his name.

IMG_1047

I think his name can be translated to mean, ‘the Emperor of Flight’.  The tragic irony of his name is searing.

IMG_1042

Straight– ” a gesture of remembering”.

It is impossible to look at Ai Weiwei’s work and hold back tears.

IMG_1037

The little Emperor of Flight wasn’t the only child who perished that fateful day in 2008, Szechuan.  There were so many of them.

IMG_1046

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei responded by creating the above installation work, Straight– from salvaged materials of the fallen buildings.  The political implications of this work are many.  There was talk that the children would not have been lost, had those responsible for construction built in a more responsible manner.  Straight was a collective effort, a community trying to heal, as many hands helped assemble the work.  In so doing, Ai Weiwei was perhaps offering, an alternative expression of the term, the “people’s power”.

He also responded by speaking with the surviving parents and families of the lost children.  He wanted to help unearth all their names, a herculean task in the face of bureaucracy and corruption.

He Xie (Crabs)

IMG_1050  IMG_1053

Fragments

IMG_1071 IMG_1073

The art comes vividly alive because I get to walk under, walk through, walk around.

Cao (Grass)- also a pun on the Chinese pronunciation of “cao” (fuck off).

IMG_1075 IMG_1078

Bed

IMG_1031

I love this work.  Again, the act of re-purposing salvaged materials is performed.  Bed can also be read as a map of China, unfolding.

It reminded me so much of another very important contemporary Chinese artist, Shen Wei.  In 1995, when Shen Wei was finally allowed out of China, he too made a dance inspired by the bed, for the American Dance Festival.  I remember him telling me why, bed.

Wo man zhai chuan shang chu seng, xiew xi, xiu jiao, zhuo ai.  Wo man ye zhai chuan shang, shi.

IMG_1035

(Crude translation-  We are birthed, we rest, we sleep, make love, and die in bed.)

Other images that linger- Ai Weiwei dropping the traditional urn, his face, deliberately impassive,

IMG_1061 IMG_1055

Dust to Dust– playful, with a tongue-in-cheek element.

IMG_1062

Bicycle Chandelier

IMG_1088

And then, the frank and detailed reenactment of his imprisonment and psychological torture.

IMG_1084

I noticed a pencil on the floor by the left foot of the interrogator.

IMG_1086

As he was being tormented, Ai Weiwei, memorised everything about his environment.  The rooms for instance, had walls and furniture wrapped in plastic.

IMG_1085

Yesterday, I encountered, Seurat.

IMG_1021

This morning’s encounter however, left me extremely humbled, and quite without breath.

IMG_1080

Ai Weiwei is unafraid, truthful, provocative.  Never Sorry!

IMG_1082

Don’t retreat, re-tweet!

His absolute faith and dedication to art, to the pursuit and expression of freedom, and what it means to be human, is for me, a voice we especially need, today.

IMG_1090

  •  Ai Weiwei, Royal Academy of Art, September 19-December 13 2015

3 thoughts on “(Wang Fei) & Ai Weiwei

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s