December 14

21st Century Living

Friday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Revolutionary Handbook

Everything is art. Everything is politics. So says Ai Weiwei, the most relevant artist in the world who China is trying to make irrelevant and Big Think is doing everything we can can to thumb our nose back at that authoritarian regime. 

Hey odds makers: do you want to put your money on Big Think or China?

"In addition to being a guide on how to live life," writes Bob Duggan in today's big idea for 2013. The Chinese dissident's new book, Weiwei-isms works as a guide on how to make art. Ai Weiwei writes: “We see plenty of artistic work that reflects superficial social conditions, but very little work that questions fundamental values." Ai Weiwei defines being a modern artist as “a symbolic thing,” ala Marcel Duchamp. “After Duchamp,” he writes, “I realized that being an artist is more about a lifestyle and an attitude than producing some product.”

Ai Weiwei, however, denies that his actions comprise some elaborate “performance art”: “It’s really life and death [not art].” All life is art, so how can you categorize any part of it as a “performance”? Ai Weiwei sounds the most Duchampian when he says that “[t]radition is only a readymade. It’s for us to make a new gesture—to use it as a reference, more as a starting point than conclusion,” hence the paradoxes of a modern artist channeling Confucius and a series of Tweets and online writings converted into old school, dead tree books. Life, art, and politics are all what you make of them—starting points in a race to serve the human race.

 

  1. 1 How to Take Ai Weiwei With You Wh...
  2. 2 Dispatches from the Police State ...
  3. 3 Chance Encounters: An Interview W...
  4. 4 Ai Weiwei: The Price of China's S...
   
  1. How to Take Ai Weiwei With You Wherever You Go

    How to Take Ai Weiwei With You Wherever You Go

    Weiwei-isms distills Ai Weiwei’s thinking on the topics of individual rights and freedom of expression. 

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  2. Dispatches from the Police State – #1: The Internet is Constantly Putting the Chinese Government on Trial

    Dispatches from the Police State – #1: The Internet is Constantly Putting the Chinese Government on Trial

    In this first dispatch from Beijing for his new blog on Big Think, artist and political activist Ai Weiwei explains the powerful effects of social media on political freedom in China.

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  3. Chance Encounters: An Interview With Ai Weiwei Documentary Filmmaker Alison Klayman

    Chance Encounters: An Interview With Ai Weiwei Documentary Filmmaker Alison Klayman

    Alison Klayman signed up for the job and that chance meeting flourished into a friendship with Ai Weiwei, China's most famous avant garde artist turned political activist, during some of the most tumultuous years of his career.  

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  4. Ai Weiwei: The Price of China's Success

    Ai Weiwei: The Price of China's Success

    Here, in a Big Think interview at his Beijing studio, Ai Weiwei discusses the challenges China faces to becoming a truly “great nation.”

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