Sometimes I don’t really get art, but if there’s a story behind it like Chinese artist Ai WeiWei’s story, then it has more of an impact on me. I can see how the artwork is impacting an entire nation of people.
In the documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” — which made our Best 20 Documentaries of 2012 — filmmaker Alison Klayman offers a first-hand look at the subversive artist, political activist and social media pioneer who’s been making global headlines ever since his controversial art installation shed light on the Chinese government’s cover-up of the death of over 5,000 elementary students in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
As punishment, the Chinese authorities censored his blog, beat him up, detained him and bulldozed his studio. And yet he continues on, and last May received the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation.
That’s determination, faith and hope in the face of serious obstacles.
Here are a few pictures of his exhibition at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano (on view through Feb. 16, 2013), which features 760 stacked bicycles in a sprawling installation on a raised stage within the gallery. Note that the bikes are not simply “stacked,” but have been physically attached creating a single cohesive structure which can be explored from within, similar to his 2011 work Forever Bicycles.
What’s it all mean? I couldn’t really say, but it’s cool, isn’t it? Also, someone translated his blog into a Tumblr blog, which is also cool.
UPDATE – This just landed in my inbox: On Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, PBS’s INDEPENDENT LENS will premiere Alison Klayman’s acclaimed documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” a portrait of the renowned Chinese artist and dissident. Check local listings.