Ai Weiwei has been called the most influential artist of our time. After denouncing government corruption and lack of respect for human rights and freedom of speech in China, he was arrested, beaten, placed in isolation and forbidden to travel. His activity as a dissident has gone hand in hand with his artistic career and he has continued to produce work testifying to his political beliefs while at the same time making plenty of room for creativity and experimentation. His output over the past thirty years allows us to explore his ambivalent rapport both with Western culture and with the culture of his own country – torn between a deep-rooted sense of belonging and an equally strong urge to rebel. Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing. His father, the poet Ai Qing, was labeled a “rightist” in 1958 and Ai and his family were exiled, first to Heilongjiang, in northeastern China, and then soon after to the deserts of Xinjiang, in northwestern China. Ai moved to the United States in 1981, living in New York between 1983 and 1993. He briefly studied at the Parsons School of Design. In New York, Ai would discover the works of Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.
Returning to China in 1993 to care for his ailing father, Ai contributed to the establishment of Beijing’s East Village, a community of avant-garde artists. In 1997, he co-founded the China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), one of the first independent art spaces in China. He began to take an interest in architecture in 1999, designing his own studio house in Caochangdi, on the northeast edge of Beijing. In 2003, Ai started his own architecture practice, FAKE Design. In 2007, as a participant of documenta 12, Ai brought 1001 Chinese citizens to Kassel as part of his Fairytale project. In 2008, Ai and the Swiss architecture team of Herzog and de Meuron designed the Beijing National Stadium. In 2010, Ai covered the floor of the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern with 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds.
Source: Galleria Continua
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