Ai Weiwei: More Than Just an Artist

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From the Sichuan earthquake To art and twitter: Ai Weiwei, more than just an artist

 

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Table of Contents

  Introduction: the Sichuan Earthquake ...................................................................... 3 Ai Weiwei’s Communication Tools ............................................................................ 3 “Remembering” ................................................................................................................... 4 Twitter .................................................................................................................................. 4

Going Local to Global .................................................................................................. 5 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 5

 
 
 

 

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Introduction: the Sichuan Earthquake
On the 12th may 2008 in the Sichuan province, a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 8 on Richter’s scale occurs during the afternoon (Fawu Wang, 2009). According to an official report, 69’197 people were killed, 374’176 injured and 4.8 Million were left homeless. Although earthquake predictions remain in a certain way always random, a scientist named Chen Xuezhong brought in 2002 evidence of a potential coming earthquake in the region (Zhiyue, 2010). It stresses that China’s government was warned of a potential coming disaster. After this short introduction, this essay will focus on the repercussions of this incident, in China as well as internationally, emphasised by Ai Weiwei’s actions through, on one hand art and on the other Internet, respectively twitter.

Ai Weiwei’s Communication Tools
The Sichuan earthquake raised strong criticism against the Chinese government, especially because of the huge number of victims among children. According to a construction engineer who published the Chinese book “Book Blade”: “School construction in China is the worst” (Li, 2008). Indeed, they are often called “tofu construction”. Several reasons cover this problematic. Among them, the tiny budgets in poor areas. This is why we find infrastructure deficits in those regions (Li, 2008). Indeed this event has raised interest and the one of a particularly renowned artist, named Ai Weiwei. In his documentary “Never sorry” Ai Weiwei explains he pursued an independent personal investigation on this accident; he wanted to find out how many children had been killed and wanted to sue the government for their deaths, because according to him, it didn’t face its responsibilities. Furthermore he reveals the difficulties encountered, due to the government’s restricted information policy, to obtain the official number of children victims (Klayman, 2012). Thus, supported by helpless parents, depressed because of their loss, he gathered the names of an important number of children killed so that they could be remembered (Helmhirst, 2012).   3

 

“Remembering”
Ai Weiwei is an international renowned artist with strong beliefs and personal views. As a matter of fact, he likes to use his world reputation to make the public opinion aware of the problems the Chinese population is facing because of the communist party and has always been a great defender of their rights. The Sichuan earthquake would have been hidden and forgotten in the government’s propaganda, but thanks to him and to his art creation, those students’ life will never be forgotten. “Remembering” is a piece of art created by Ai Weiwei on the wall of the “Haus der Kunst” in Munich. Made with 9’000 schoolbags (McMahon, 2010), it symbolises the life of the students who died during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Different colours have been chosen to decorate the schoolbags, in order to read the following phrase, written with Chinese characters, on the wall of the “Haus der Kunst”: “She lived happily for seven years in this world”...
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