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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

by Louise Adams
Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

In Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Alison Klayman follows the acclaimed Chinese artist and social networking stalwart as he prepares for international exhibitions, before he was detained on January 11, 2011, and interrogated by the Chinese government for 81 days.

Initially a favorite son of the PRC for designing their Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium, Ai then boycotted the Games as propaganda, which should have represented "freedom, not autocracy."

Ai, who speaks English after a decade living in NYC, continued his political "game of chess" by collecting and publishing the names of thousands of children killed by shoddy government-built schools during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, when officials declared the death toll "a secret."

To mitigate this infamous institutional obfuscation, throughout his career, as well as in this film, Ai documents his work using phone photos and video, plus ongoing Tweets (@aiww), like "there are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship."

Ai recorded his beating by Chengdu police to prevent his testifying at a fellow dissidents' trial, as well as the resulting brain surgery in Munich, where he opened his "So Sorry" installation. Inspired by the thousands of schoolbags in the Sichuan rubble, Ai spelled out, in backpacks, "she lived happily on this earth for seven years," taken from a parents' letter.

Other multimedia work includes repainting, or covering with a Coke logo, or smashing, Neolithic Han Dynasty vases, to mirror the Communist party's destruction of the past; and flipping birds at Tiananmen Square and other prominent locations.

The doc includes comprehensive footage and interviews with the unassuming yet troubled Ai, his family and collaborators, with additional interviews and deleted scenes, and furthers his artistic activism internationally since he's forbidden to leave China now. Now Ai, who has a "hooligan side to deal with Communist hooligans," finds freedom in cyberspace. He recently posted a political "Gangnam Style" video remake featuring handcuffs, and advises, "Never Retreat, Retweet!"

"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"

Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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