This article is by Emma Taggart and published by My Modern MET:
Artist Ai Weiwei is undoubtedly the most well-known living Chinese creative today, but his country’s government doesn’t exactly give him the recognition he deserves. In communist China—where freedom of speech is tightly regulated—Ai’s varied portfolio of work doesn’t fetch the highest prices at auctions, and critics don’t sing his praises. Instead, the activist is viewed as a threat to the “harmonious society.” He has spent time in jail, been beaten by police, and is constantly under surveillance. He was even barred from leaving Beijing for a whole year in 2011. As a result, he has become an unsung hero and a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China.
From smashing an ancient vase to highlighting governmental corruption and negligence, Ai’s dramatic actions bridge the gap between art and societal issues. “Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential,” he says. “Simply put, aside from using one’s imagination—perhaps more importantly—creativity is the power to act.”
Through sculpture, film, installation, photography, and architecture—and across an array of materials including ceramics, marble, paint, and tea—Ai explores Chinese identity in the modern world as well as the culture’s social history. Read on to discover six of his most famous works.
Read the full article here.